Observing that it was a serious issue requiring effective measures, the Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice to AAP government on a petition seeking transparency and fairness in working of the Sentence Review Board (SRB), which considers cases of pre-mature release of lifers.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao asked the Delhi government to file a status report spelling out whether suggestions given by petitioner lawyer-cum-social activist Amit Sahni can be implemented to ensure cases of pre-mature release are decided fairly.
Sahni had moved high court after reading about lifer named Sikander who breathed his last in Tihar jail on November 23 after spending 28 years of his life behind the bars awaiting pre-mature release.
He said: “In certain cases, SRB has recommended the release of convict(s), who were not fulfilling the eligibility as mandated by the SRB Order dated 16-07-2018 and sometime the Police Reports are used by members of SRB as per their discretion in arbitrary manner.”
Sahni was prompted to send a representation to the Delhi government on November 26 placing on record various suggestions to ensure no lifer is forced to spend over 25 years in jail.
Some of the suggestions that he had placed on record were that a convict for pre-mature release should be assigned a number (his first and last name be concealed) so that factors such as caste, religion, etc., do not play a role in deciding his fate; convicts should be given right to legal representation, the meetings of the board should be videographed and entire material such as police reports, reports from jail, nominal rolls, report from social welfare department and other documents, be also forwarded to the Lieutenant Governor for him purpose of taking an independent decision and whether the decision taken by SRB is correct as per material considered by it or the same is based upon some extraneous reasons.
During Thursday’s hearing, many senior advocates including N Hariharan and RN Mittal submitted that cases of premature release of convicts were not dealt with impartially and extraneous considerations affect the decision of the board and therefore, requires indulgence of the high court.
The bench was of the view that the issue raised in the petition was serious and asked the Delhi government to file a status report whether the suggestions made by Sahni can be given effect to.
The matter is now listed for January 31.