Arbitrary application of different yardsticks for similarly placed convicts would give rise to a situation where persons lacking resources would suffer the most: SC

Arbitrary application of different yardsticks for similarly placed convicts would give rise to a situation where persons lacking resources would suffer the most: SC

The Supreme Court bench, made up of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala, noted in a case involving the remission of convicts in the State of Uttar Pradesh that the arbitrary application of various yardsticks for similarly situated convicts would result in a situation where the people with limited resources would suffer the most. The bench issued a number of directives to institutionalise the procedure in order to stop this from happening.

A important directive from the Court is that premature release matters must be resolved within three months of the prisoner's eligibility date. Prior to this, the Court had instructed the authorities to demand a formal application from the prisoner before evaluating their request for parole.

While noting that the State of UP has been using various policies for inmates with similar sentences, the court remarked in its order:

"State of Uttar Pradesh, having formulated a Statute, Rules and a Standing Policy for deciding cases of premature release, is bound by its own formulations of law. Once there are legal provisions which hold the field, it is not open for the State to adopt an arbitrary yardstick to pick up cases of premature release and must be in conformity with its policies and bearing in mind that there is a fundamental principle of law that remission is as per the policy which existed during conviction and liberalisation is to be implemented as amended later."

The bench added in the order –

"An arbitrary method adopted by the state is liable to give rise to a situation where the persons lacking resources, or for that matter adequate education and awareness, would suffer the most. Bearing in mind the repeated instances which are coming before the court resulting in the invocation of Article 32 of the Constitution, we are intending to institutionalise the process for considering premature release in terms of the governing statutory provisions in the state of Uttar Pradesh and for effective monitoring of the process."

As a result, the following instructions were given: 

1. The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) Chairperson should gather data from district and state prisons on prisoners who have become eligible for early release under applicable rules and policies. 

2. In order to ensure that the process of premature release is carried out in a timely and transparent manner, each jail superintendent should provide the Secretary of the DLSA with such information.

3. On May 1, August 1, and October 1 of each year, DLSA Secretaries are required to compile data and submit returns to the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA). A meeting should be called by the State body's chair to review the report submitted by DLSA. The Director-General (DG), Prisons, and the Secretary of the Home Department shall also attend the meeting. 

4. The State government is required to adhere strictly to the guidelines in the policy governing the early release of convicts. 

5. No later than three months after the prisoner first qualifies for premature release, all cases involving the consideration of prisoner early release must be resolved.

Case Title : Rajkumar vs State of Uttar Pradesh 
Citation: Miscellaneous Application No.2169/2022 in W.P.(Crl.) No. 36/2022

Order dated 05.01.2023

Appearance of the Advocates:-

For Petitioner(s) 
Mr. Nagendra Singh, Adv.
Mr. Ashish Pandey, Adv.
Mr. Prateek Rai, Adv.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Adv.
Dr. Amardeep Gaur, Adv.
M/S. V. Maheshwari & Co., AOR

For Respondent(s) 
Mr. Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, A.A.G.
Ms. Preetika Dewedi, Adv.
Mr. Vishnu Shankar Jain, AOR
Mr. Rishi Malhotra, Amicus Curiae

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