Life Convicts Release Committee Must Meet Once In 2 Months: Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court on 2nd March, 2023 has directed the state government to ask the Life Convicts Release Committee, headed by the Principal Secretary, State Home Department, to meet once in two months to review and pass orders on applications made for premature release/remission made by convicts serving life imprisonment. This was in the case of Omkarmurthy v. State of Karnataka & Others (WRIT PETITION NO. 1300 OF 2023) and was presided over by a single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioner is before this Court seeking a direction by issuance of a writ in the nature of mandamus directing respondents 1, 3 and 4 to place the case of the petitioner before the Life Convicts Premature Release Committee, the 2nd respondent. The petitioner gets embroiled in a crime which ends up in his conviction in S.C.No.52/2008. On the registration of a crime for the offences punishable under Sections 201, 302 and 376 of the IPC, the petitioner was convicted and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life. By then, the petitioner was already in custody from 23.11.2007 itself, and continued to be in custody till the learned Sessions Judge convicted him for the aforesaid offences on 12.10.2010. 4. The petitioner files a criminal appeal before this Court in Crl.A.No.184/2020, wherein, this Court acquitted the petitioner of the offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC and affirmed the conviction for other offences under Sections 201 and 302 of the IPC. The petitioner continues to be in prison and is now in prison for the last 16 years. The jail authorities have also issued certificates favouring the petitioner observing that his conduct has been exemplary throughout. On all the aforesaid basis, the petitioner seeks his premature release / remission on the ground that he has been a life convict for over 16 years and 10 months along with the entitlement of remission before the jail authorities. What drives the petitioner to this Court is that, the case of the petitioner is not placed before the Committee – the second respondent by the fourth respondent.
Learned counsel appearing for petitioner Sri.K.B.Monesh Kumar would contend that the Committee is required to meet once in two months, six times in a year and the Committee has not met for the last six months. The learned Additional Government Advocate would on instructions submit that the Committee has slated to meet in the month of March for consideration of the cases of the petitioner and the like on their merit. The bench referred to the judgments of the Apex court in the case of Sondhar Vs State of Chhattisgarh and Karuna Shankar Vs State of Uttar Pradesh.
The court opined, “ the Committee has not met for the last 8 months which has resulted in plethora of cases being filed before this Court seeking a mandamus only to place those applications before the committee in the ensuing meeting. When the meeting would ensue the State itself is not aware, as no concrete date is being divulged for the committee to meet.
I deem it appropriate to direct the State Government to henceforth direct the 2nd respondent/Committee to meet at least 6 times a year – once in two months, so that those application/s are considered at the right time on their individual merit and cases being filed only to place the application/s before the committee would be obviated. Till such time that the application of the petitioner would merit consideration before the committee, he would be entitled to be released on parole, in accordance with law, for a period that the Authorities of the jail would prescribe or till such time, the committee would meet and consider the case of the petitioner.”
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRATIKSHYA P. BEURA