New Delhi, July 10: Delhi High Court today gave two more weeks to the Union home ministry to file a reply making its stand clear on whether the Centre wants to hold back or release Purulia arms drop convict Peter Bleach.
Justice Vikramjit Sen listed the matter for July 31, after additional solicitor-general K.K. Sood prayed for the time. “The matter (a decision on Bleach’s release) was in progress,” Sood pleaded.
Home secretary . Gopalaswami and joint secretary, judicial, Durgadas Gupta were present in the court in response to a contempt notice issued to them on April 22. The notice had asked why action should not be taken against them for “breach of undertaking given in the high court on (the) release of Bleach”.
Legal activist Deepak Prahladka had filed a writ petition in the high court on February 5, 2003, seeking directions to the home ministry to decide on a petition he had sent to the President. The petition had argued that Bleach should be released on equal remission of sentences as granted to his five co-convict Latvians in July 2000.
The court had sought a reply from the home ministry by February 24. On that date, the ministry gave an undertaking that “either Bleach will be released or the petition for the release of the arms drop convict will be dismissed”, Prahladka said. As the ministry failed to make its stand clear on the remission petition in the time given by the court, Prahladka filed a contempt petition on April 22 for the prosecution of Gopalaswami and Gupta.
The Latvians and Bleach were sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Calcutta on February 2, 2000. Their appeal against the verdict is still pending in Calcutta High Court.