New Delhi, Feb : In a bid to streamline the disposal of pendency of applications by convicts seeking premature release, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the states to submit their reports to the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on the issue.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjaya Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy noted that the convicts should avail the remedy of remission as soon as possible and emphasised that the states should submit their reports via state legal services authorities to the NALSA.
The bench cited pendency of 1,649 applications from the NALSA report of convicts seeking premature release. The top court stressed that the reasons for pendency of these applications need careful examination.
“We may also notice that the focus appears to be on forwarding the papers to file an SLP on the anvil of 14 years expiry to complete formality (most of such appeals result in dismissal orders as being without merits) rather than ensuring that the application for remission is forwarded and considered expeditiously,” the top court observed.
The observation was made by the apex court while hearing a matter of a petitioner/accused who completed the sentence of 14 years in March 2017 and as per Chhattisgarh Prison Rules, his case for remission was required to be considered.
The bench noted that the jail superintendent should be looking into all such matters and make sure that remedy is available to the detenu. The petitioner was released from jail on October 2, 2020, after his remission was accepted.
The bench observed that the case of the petitioner was sent after two-and-a-half years on September 17, 2019, and thereafter it took the home department of Chhattisgarh one more year to accept the case for remission on September 30, 2020.
“We also found that 431 prisoners have not applied for premature release and thus may not be aware of their rights. It is towards this objective that we have passed the directions in the present matter which pertains to Chhattisgarh, but the same principles must apply across the board,” said the top court in its order.
The bench observed that some time schedules should be fixed within which such an application is processed by the home department and this should not take more than two to three months, unlike the present case where it took a year.
“The objective of our directions is to ensure that such situations do not arise in the future,” the bench noted.
The top court asked advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting the court on behalf of NALSA, to ensure that its order is circulated to all the states for compliance and sought his suggestions to streamline the process.
“We may emphasise that the role of NALSA is to prefer SLPs where it is felt that the order deserves to be examined on merits but where the order is not faulty on merits, the focus may shift to make sure that the remedy available to the detenues, more specifically of remission, is made available at the earliest,” it said.
The top court will further hear the matter on March 1.