Supreme Court orders premature release of convict who served over 29 years

Ram Sewak, who was found guilty of murder and voluntarily causing hurt during a robbery, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court in Uttar Pradesh. His case dates back to 1981.

A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and S. Abdul Nazeer realised from the petition filed by Sewak that he had been “in jail for over 29 years and according to the counter affidavit, with remission, the total sentence undergone is 36 years”.

The court said a person who has crossed 60 years of age, as in the case of Sewak, and already served 16 years of prison sentence without remission, is “entitled to be considered for premature release”.

The court did not pass the baton to examine Sewak’s case for premature release, passing the order itself.

“Having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, as emerging in the case of the petitioner, we are of the view that there is no point in directing further consideration by the State, since the petitioner otherwise satisfies the eligibility criterion for premature release,” the Bench observed in its October 11 order.

The Bench directed that Sewak was not to be detained in connection with any other case.

Answering a question in the Rajya Sabha on March 14 this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs placed on record that, as on December 31, 2016, there are a total of 73,975 life convicts in prisons across the country. Of this, 70,577 are men and 3398 are women. The data shown by the ministry is sourced from the National Crime Records Bureau’s prison statistics.

The Model Prison Manual 2016 prepared by the ministry shows that premature release of prisoners can be under four circumstances. They are, by way of commutation of sentence of life convict; remitting term sentence of a prisoner under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 by the State Government; By order of the Head of the State passed under Article 72 or Article 161 of the Constitution; and under any special law enacted by the State providing for release on probation of good conduct prisoners after they have served a part of the sentence.

Apart from this, there are separate guidelines for under-trial prisoners under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

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