15 Aug 2023 3:00 PM GMT
The Supreme Court recently set free a life convict, who despite being granted remission by Andhra Pradesh government, was not released on the ground that his sentence for a subsequent offence would start running from the date of remission(State of Andhra Pradesh v. Vijayanagram Chinna Redappa).The court noted that for an escaped convict, the second conviction starts only when he serves...
The Supreme Court recently set free a life convict, who despite being granted remission by Andhra Pradesh government, was not released on the ground that his sentence for a subsequent offence would start running from the date of remission(State of Andhra Pradesh v. Vijayanagram Chinna Redappa).
The court noted that for an escaped convict, the second conviction starts only when he serves the remaining term of his previous conviction. But for a life convict, it's impossible to determine what was the remaining sentence.
The Court took into aid section 427(2) CrPC to hold that the second sentence would run concurrently with the previous life sentence. Therefore, the convict may be released upon grant of remission.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and Justice Pankaj Mithal was hearing an appeal challenging an order of the Division Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh issuing a writ of Habeas Corpus directing the Superintendent of the Central Prison, Kadapa to set at liberty, a convict by name P. Reddy Bhaskar.
The Supreme Court noted that Section 426(2)(b) of the Cr.P.C. addresses a specific scenario: when a convicted individual escapes and is subsequently re-apprehended. The provision states that the sentence for the second or subsequent conviction will only commence after the escaped convict has served an additional period equal to the unexpired term of their prior sentence at the time of escape. But for someone sentenced to life imprisonment, the concept of "remaining time" doesn't apply in the same way. The rule doesn't fully fit the case of a life convict. Their remaining sentence can't be measured the same way as others.
The court observed “Insofar as a life convict is concerned, in law, no part of the sentence remains unexpired. The remission granted by the Government to a life convict, cannot be taken to mean that there is some portion of the life sentence that remains unexpired in the same sense as in the case of other convicts. A life sentence is a sentence for life”
The judgment intriguingly asserts that what remains unexpired of a life sentence is "known only to God (if you believe) and to the Government, if there is a policy of remission."
The court then goes on to discuss Section 427(2) Cr.P.C. which offers an alternative perspective. It stipulates that if an individual already serving a sentence of imprisonment for life is subsequently convicted, the subsequent sentence should run concurrently with the previous life sentence. The court opined that although Section 427 doesn't directly address escaped convicts, it provides an avenue for addressing the complexities arising from the perpetual nature of life sentences.
It held “While Section 426 covers the case of an escaped convict, clause (b) of sub-section (2) thereof creates a conundrum in respect of life convicts. But Section 427, though does not deal with the case of an escaped convict, provides enough room for finding out how a sentence imposed on a subsequent conviction, in respect of a life convict, should be handled.”
The court concluded that the application of Section 427(2) Cr.P.C. by the High Court in this case was well-founded.
The court observed “Therefore, the application of Section 427(2) Cr.P.C. by the High Court to the case on hand, is perfectly in order and the appeal deserves to be dismissed. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed. The detenu shall be set at liberty forthwith”.
Case title: State of Andhra Pradesh v. Vijayanagram Chinna Redappa
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 647
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