SC cautions authorities on premature release of convicts

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (UNI) The Supreme Court today said powers to grant pardon to the convicts serving their sentences should not be used arbitrarily and for ulterior motives.

A bench comprising Justices H K Sema and Markandey Katju sounded a note of caution to the authorities while dismissing a batch of PILs, praying to the apex court to lay down some uniform guidelines for premature release of those serving life imprisonment or facing death sentences.

The petitioners had pleaded that some states, like Haryana, have been releasing convicts for dubious considerations and not for their outstanding conduct and behaviour in jail.

The administration can order premature release of a prisoner, subject to certain conditions. One of the petitioners, Anil Kumar Sharma, had made serious allegations of favouritism against the then Om Prakash Chautala Government in Haryana for releasing hardened criminals on the eve of assembly elections in the state.

According to the petitioners, states have been misusing these powers for political considerations and such misuse of powers must be checked and in the name of reformation of offenders those involved in heinous crimes should not be released, as such elements pose great threat to the society at large. The petitioners also pleaded that justice should be done to the victim also and it should not remain confined to the offenders alone.

A lifer can be released prematurely on completion of imprisonment of 14 years.

The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the petition after sounding a note of caution to the authorities which included the President and the state Governors, who have powers to grant pardon.

UNI AKS/SC RSA RP ND1515

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