The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to furnish details of rape and murder convicts released prematurely from jails after it was informed that since January 1 last year, a total of 1,544 such convicts have been set free in the state.
The top court asked the state government to also provide the age of the rape and murder convicts who were prematurely released.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph directed the state government to furnish the details on affidavit and posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.
"On hearing counsel for the parties, we call upon the state to file an affidavit setting forth as to in how many cases of rape and murder release was granted along with the age of the victim," it said.
The top court was hearing a plea of a convict in a rape and murder case, who has been lodged in Agra jail for 35 years.
Convict Mahesh challenged rejection of his premature release application by the state government last year.
The bench granted interim bail to Mahesh and directed him to report to nearest police station on every alternate Monday.
"In the meantime, considering that the petitioner has been in actual custody for about 35 years and with remission would be about 45 years, we grant interim bail to the petitioner. The petitioner will report to the nearest police station on every alternate Monday at 10am," the bench said.
At the outset, advocate Pijush Kanti Roy, who was appointed as amicus curiae in the matter by the bench, said when the Uttar Pradesh government has released prematurely several similarly placed convicts, there was no point in rejecting the application of Mahesh, who has not been out of jail for even a single day since his arrest 35 years ago.
The counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government said that in pursuance of the top court's earlier order, they have submitted the report on pre-mature release of convicts.
The state's counsel said since Jan 1, 2018, till now the state government has acceded to the request of 1,544 prisoners and have granted premature release to them under the provisions of CrPC.
The top court directed that before the release of Mahesh, from jail on interim bail, he should be assessed by a psychologist and that report be also placed before it.
The state government had on Nov 4 informed the top court that it has rejected the application for premature release of Mahesh.
The top court had then asked the state government to place on record the cases where such request for premature release has been acceded to commencing from Jan 1, 2018 and the reasons for the same.
Section 432 (1) of CrPC gives power to the state government to suspend or remit sentences of a person with or without any conditions.
Section 432(2) says that whenever an application is made for remission, the appropriate government may seek the opinion of the presiding judge of the court that had sentenced the convict or confirmed the conviction, on whether the request should be granted.