27 Sep 2023 6:09 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently (September 25) disapproved of the conduct of the Jail Superintendent of the Durg Central Jail in Chattisgarh for producing a purported letter from a prisoner in which he agreed to withdraw the petition filed by him in the Supreme Court seeking premature release.A bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal was surprised to note that along with...
The Supreme Court recently (September 25) disapproved of the conduct of the Jail Superintendent of the Durg Central Jail in Chattisgarh for producing a purported letter from a prisoner in which he agreed to withdraw the petition filed by him in the Supreme Court seeking premature release.
A bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal was surprised to note that along with the Status Report filed by the State, there was a letter, allegedly signed by the petitioner and addressed to the Jail Superintendent, which indicated the petitioner's desire to withdraw the present petition.
The Court questioned the authenticity and circumstances surrounding this letter, especially given that the petitioner was legally represented by an Advocate. It pointed out that if the petitioner had intended to withdraw the petition, he would likely have instructed his lawyer accordingly. The Court deemed it unfortunate that the Jail Superintendent had obtained such a letter from the petitioner under unclear circumstances, which required further explanation.
“When the petitioner is represented by an Advocate, if the petitioner intended to withdraw the petition, he would have instructed his lawyer to do so. It is unfortunate that the Jail Superintendent has obtained such a letter from the petitioner. Even the Jail Superintendent must file an affidavit and explain his conduct", the Court ordered.
The Court also chided the State for not complying with its earlier direction passed on August 21 to consider the grant of permanent remission to the petitioner.
“From the Status Report, it appears that in August 2023, the Jail Superintendent recommended to the Principal Secretary of the Home Department of the State to grant permanent remission. The Principal Secretary of the State Government of the Home(Prison) Department, owes an explanation to this Court for not complying with the order dated 21.08.2023", the Court observed.
Notably, the court in its earlier order had ordered “We direct the State to reconsider the case of the petitioner for grant of permanent remission in the light of the judgment of this Court dated 13.01.2023 in Jaswant Singh & Ors v. the State of Chhattisgarh(Writ Petition (Crl.) No.323 of 2022).”
The bench was hearing a writ petition under Art. 32 for directing the respondent to re-consider the cases of the petitioner for premature release by seeking the opinion afresh of the Sentencing Court.
In the present case, the petitioner is a 42-year-old convict who’s undergoing life imprisonment for more than 15 years without remission on the charge of murder committed in 1999. The trial awarded the sentence of life imprisonment which was also upheld by the High Court. The SLP before the Supreme Court against the conviction and sentence was also dismissed in 2015.
The petitioner in his plea contended that, “Having absolutely clean antecedents, he has never been involved in any other crime except the present crime. His conduct in jail has been good as he was never involved in any activity in disobedience of jail rules/ manual.”
The plea drew the attention of the court to similarly situated and identically placed convicts who have been released by the State of Chhattisgarh in pursuance of the directions issued by this Hon’ble Court In Ram D Chander v. State of Chhattisgarh 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 401 and Jaswant Singh & Ors. v. State of Chhattisgarh 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 33.
In light of these concerns, the Supreme Court issued a directive granting a period of two weeks to both the Principal Secretary of the concerned Department and the Jail Superintendent to file affidavits.
Case title: Chain Singh v. State of Chattisgarh
Citation: Writ Petition(s)(Criminal) No(s). 183/2023
For petitioner: Advocate on Record Mr. Mohd. Irshad Hanif
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