The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 20 , 2014
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SC bins lifer’s parole plea for marriage

New Delhi, May 19: The Supreme Court today threw out a life convict’s plea for parole to get married, saying if it granted the request the prisoner would return a year later with a fresh one for celebrating a birth.

Justices B.S. Chauhan and A.K. Sikri also said that it was “only in this country” that prisoners serving life terms were getting married and parents had no objection to giving their daughters away in such marriages.

“It is strange that only in this country we hear of life convicts getting married while serving their sentences and people are willing to give their daughters for marriage,” Justice Sikri said.

Sibo Shankar Misra, the counsel who appeared for Manoj Singh, had requested the court to grant the convict parole for 15 days so that he could marry Laxmi, the girl the prisoner had got engaged to, on May 30 in Palwal, Haryana.

The counsel told the court both families had approved the match despite Singh’s conviction for murder. In villages, the lawyer said, prison sentences don’t matter.

“Don’t tell us such things,” Justice Chauhan, who was heading the bench, told the counsel. “We are also from villages. We know what happens.”

Singh has been serving a life sentence for murdering a person called Mahindra in May 2010 after the victim had reportedly asked him to repay Rs 80,000 he had loaned the convict.

While on bail, Singh had got engaged in December 2012 to Laxmi who was from the same district. In August last year, a sessions court jailed him for life.

Undeterred by the conviction, the two families decided to press ahead with the marriage. Singh filed an application before the superintendent of the Faridabad District Jail, seeking parole for 15 days. But the superintendent rejected his plea.

In an order dated April 22, the superintendent said under Rule 4(1) of the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Rules 2007, convicts couldn’t be released on parole before they completed a year in prison after conviction.

Singh had then moved Punjab and Haryana High Court, which too dismissed his plea. He then approached the apex court, where Misra, his lawyer, said the high court “ought to have taken a humane approach”.

“The emotions of many people are attached with the (marriage) functions. It is not simply of function and bonding between two persons but a social obligation and bonding between families and villages,” Misra said.

“The petitioner is ready to give any kind of undertaking he is directed to give by this Hon’ble Court,” the counsel submitted.

The bench wasn’t impressed. “We can’t pass any order unless he completes the one-year period,” it said. “If we pass any order he will again come back after one year making a fresh plea for celebrating his first child.”

The court then dismissed Singh’s petition.