The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea that has raised a legal issue as to whether the policy for premature release from jail existing at the time of conviction or the subsequent one which is in existence at the time of consideration of such relief would be applicable.
The apex court sought the response of the Madhya Pradesh government and others within four weeks on the plea filed by a convict, who is serving a life term and is seeking directions to the state to release him from jail on the grounds that he has undergone a sentence of over 20 years including the period of remission.
The petitioner has said that he also qualifies under the policy for premature release which was applicable at the time of his conviction in the case.
The plea came up for hearing on Friday before a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Hrishikesh Roy which issued a notice seeking the response of the state government and others.
Issue notice returnable in four weeks, the bench said.
The petition, filed through advocate Rishi Malhotra, said the petitioner was convicted by a trial court in a case of 1996 along with others and was sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2005.
The plea said at the time of his conviction, the policy for premature release dated December 4, 1978 was applicable.
However, for the first time on January 10, 2012, there was a substantial change/departure from the said policy wherein it stipulated that such prisoners who are facing life imprisonment would have to undergo actual sentence of 20 years with a total sentence of 26 years, it said.
The plea said as per the December 1978 policy, any convict who has been sentenced to life imprisonment after December 18, 1978 and has undergone 14 years of the actual sentence and completed a total sentence of 20 years would be entitled to premature release.
It said the authorities had in December last year rejected the application filed by the petitioner for premature release by relying on the subsequent policy of January 2012, instead of the December 1978 policy.
The case of premature release of the petitioner should be considered in light of the policy dated December 4, 1978 and appropriate directions be issued for his immediate release from jail, the plea said.