Jorhat, Sept. 27: The Assam government has revised the procedural norms for granting remission to lifers.
Inspector-general of police (prisons) P.P. Baruah has sent a directive to all jails across the state to follow the new procedure while sending proposals to the state home department for commuting life imprisonment terms.
The directive comes after the Union ministry of home affairs (Centre-state division) sent an advisory to Assam earlier this month on the basis of the Supreme Court’s order issued last year.
The apex court, after taking serious note of the “misconception” of the governments on the provision of granting remittance to lifers, has tightened the procedure.
“There is a misconception that a convict serving a life sentence has an indefeasible right to release on completion of 14 years RI and completing 20 years of the sentence through number of days remittance earned by him/her. A lifer is expected to remain in custody till the end of his/her life, subject to any remission granted by the state government under Section 432 CrPC, which, in turn, is subject to procedural checks in that section and substantive checks in 433-A CrPC,” the letter said, quoting the Supreme Court order.
The missive by Baruah quoted the Centre’s letter, which, while quoting the Supreme Court’s order, said: “Before actually exercising the power of remission under Section 432 CrPC, the appropriate government must obtain the opinion of the presiding judge of the convicting court or confirming court. Remission, therefore, be given only on a case-by-case basis and not in a wholesale manner”.
Baruah’s directive said unlike the earlier procedure, from now onwards the jail superintendents have to obtain applications from the convicts or from their relatives, at least three months before completion of “actual imprisonment” of 14 years and sentence of 20 years (done through a number of remittance days earned by the convict).
According to Assam Jail Manual rule, a convict serving a life sentence could earn a maximum of 135 days’ remittance in a calendar year and a minimum of 69 days in the same periods by doing various kinds of work and showing good conduct and behaviour.
Earlier it was not necessary for the lifers to submit petitions to jail authorities to be forwarded to Dispur, seeking release from the prison. The jail officials could submit proposals on their own to the state government for release of lifers.
“The superintendents should process every individual case on merit, supported by proper documents, while preparing the proposal,” the inspector-general (prisons) said in the directive.
Baruah said after getting the opinion of the judge of the convicting court, the superintendent should submit the proposal to the IG (prisons), who, after examining the same, will place it at the highest level of the home department for consideration.
According to home department sources, there are over 100 lifers in prisons across the state, who would be eligible to seek commutation of their sentence. Since April 2012 the government has not granted commutation to any lifer.