Supreme Court on Premature Release of Convicts: Idea of Punishment should be Reformative

Supreme Court Reformative Premature Release Convicts

Chaini Parwani –

Published On: November 09, 2021 at 10:00 IST

The Supreme Court while informing the Uttar Pradesh Government to acknowledge afresh the premature release Petitions of more than 100 life convicts suffering in Prison for over 16 years, stated that the Criminal Justice System in India is reform-oriented and does not attempt to Punish Criminals

A Bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari stated “The idea of punishment has to be reformative. We do not want to punish people. They must be reformed and sent back to society. Any policy must consider this aspect of reformation in it.”

The Petition by convicts filed earlier this year relied on a Premature Release Policy issued on August 1, 2018, by the state under the Uttar Pradesh Prisoners’ Release on Probation Act. Every year, on Republic Day, the state granted remission to Prisoners under Article 161, the Governor’s Power of Clemency.

In January 2020, the Petitioners were granted to premature release as they had completed a minimum of 16 years of Imprisonment under the 2018 policy.

Further on July 28, 2021, an Amendment to the 2018 policy was made, limiting the benefit to prisoners aged 60 years and above.

The Bench, unhappy with the Amendment stated “We are of the view that the un-amended policy dated August 1, 2018, should be applicable to the petitioners.” 

Senior Advocate ZU Khan and Advocate Anu Gupta representing the convicts submitted an Affidavit to the Apex Court that the Amended Policy should not be applied retrospectively as the 113 convicts became entitled for release before the release of the Amendment. 

Further, the Bench noted that if a person is convicted for Murder at the age of 20, he should not wait for another 40 years to be entitled for premature release.

Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad representing the State highlighted that “Life imprisonment is imprisonment for the whole of the convict’s natural life, as held by the Supreme Court in a series of Judgments. These Petitions do not challenge the amended policy of July 2021. This aspect is being considered by a separate Bench of the Supreme Court.”

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