States Can Impose Restrictions To Consider Remission Claims: SC Upholds Rajasthan Rule [Read Judgment]

States Can Impose Restrictions To Consider Remission Claims: SC Upholds Rajasthan Rule [Read Judgment]

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of Rule 8(2)(i) of the Rajasthan Prisons (Shortening of Sentences) Rules, 2006.

The said rule provided that an application for shortening of sentences and premature release of a prisoner who has been sentenced-to imprisonment for life for an offence for which death penalty is one of the punishment provided by law or who has been sentenced to death but his sentence has been commuted under Section 433 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, into one of imprisonment for life, shall be considered only after he has served 14 years of actual imprisonment excluding remission but including the period of detention spent during enquiry, investigation or trial, on the condition that such a prisoner shall also have to earn a minimum of 4 years of remission in order to be eligible for consideration.

The Rajasthan High Court struck down this Rule on two grounds: That the Rules not having been placed before the Legislature of the State as required by Section 59(2) of the Act did not acquire statutory force. And that the Rules could not have been framed contrary to Section 433-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, relying on the Constitution Bench decision in Maru Ram vs. Union of India. The State of Rajasthan had assailed this judgment before the Apex Court.

The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha in State of Rajasthan vs. Mukesh Sharma observed that there is no requirement for laying of the Rules before the Legislature prior to promulgation and no time limit has been prescribed for laying has been provided. The use of words "as soon as" coupled with the absence of any consequence for not laying makes the provision directory and not mandatory, said the bench.

Setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench, referring to constitution bench judgment Maru Ram, further said:

"Manifestly remission not being a matter of right, much less upon completion of 14 years of custody, but subject to rules framed in that regard, including complete denial of the same in specified circumstances, as a matter of State policy, nothing prevents the State from imposing restrictions in the manner done by Rule 8(2)(i) to consider claims for remission. "

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