Jharkhand High Court Emphasizes Discretion in Seeking Judge’s Opinion for Remission Applications

Oct26,2023 #Jharkhand HC #Remission

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Published on: October 26, 2023 at 11:59 IST

The Jharkhand High Court, in a recent ruling, clarified the discretionary nature of seeking the Presiding Judge’s opinion in a remission application, in accordance with Subsection 2 of Section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The court emphasized that such an opinion should not be blindly adhered to if it does not meet the specified requirements. The decision came as a result of a Petition challenging the State Sentence Review Board’s rejection of a premature release application.

Justice observed, “Sub-section (2) of Section 432 Cr.P.c. provides that the appropriate Government may take the opinion of the Presiding Judge of the Court before or by which the person making an application for remission has been convicted.”

The court further clarified that the appropriate Government should not mechanically follow the Presiding Judge’s opinion if it fails to meet the requirements of Section 432(2) Cr.P.C. and is not in line with the guidelines established by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, as seen in the case of Laxman Naskar (supra). The government has the flexibility to seek a fresh opinion from the Presiding Judge.

Advocate Rajendra Prasad Gupta represented the Petitioner, and Additional Standing Counsel Faisal Allam represented the Respondent in this case. The Petitioner brought the matter before the court through a Writ Petition to challenge the State Sentence Review Board’s decision to reject a premature release petition.

The court noted that the Petitioner had been convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sentenced to life imprisonment by the court. The Informant’s Appeal for sentence enhancement was accepted, leading to the commutation of the Petitioner’s death sentence to life imprisonment. Additionally, the court acknowledged that the Petitioner had spent more than 26 years, 2 months, and 19 days in custody.

In accordance with the 1984 policy, a case can be considered for premature release after 14 years from the date of conviction, and after 20 years, the convict becomes eligible for remission.

The court clarified that it has the authority to review the government’s decision to determine if it was arbitrary. However, this power does not extend to granting remission itself, but if a case merits it, the court can direct a reconsideration by the appropriate authorities.

In this specific case, the court noted that the opinion of the Presiding Judge did not favor the Petitioner, leading to the rejection of his plea. The court reiterated that the government has the option to request a fresh opinion from the Presiding Judge.

Consequently, the court ordered that the Government of Jharkhand will make a final decision on remission, taking into account the Presiding Judge’s opinion, within one month of receiving the opinion. The Petition was allowed by the Court.

Case Title: Umesh Singh v The State of Jharkhand

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