Release life convict languishing in jail for 27 years on I-Day, HC tells officials

Chides their ignorance in perusing with the governor about remission of convicts

HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court deprecated the principal secretary for home Ravi Gupta and the DG for prisons for lack of awareness about rule provisions for pursuing matters with the state governor about remission of convicts.

Justice K. Lakshman deplored the manner higher ranked officials were remaining quiet for long periods by simply sending files related to remission to the Governor and not following it up.

Justice Lakshman said they must appraise the timelines fixed by the Supreme Court with regard to disposal of applications submitted by life convicts seeking remission to the Governor and get clearance of the file.

The judge stated that the apex court in the Shersingh case held that a self-imposed rule should rigorously be followed by the executive authorities that every such petition shall be disposed of within three months from the date on which it is received. By saying so, the judge directed the said officials to complete the exercise for remission of a life convict, Mohd Sarwar, who is languishing in jail for 27 years, by Independence Day.

Justice Lakshman was dealing with a contempt case filed against the two officials, who did not comply with the court orders in Sarwar’s release on remission.

Sarwar was convicted for life for the murder of an employee of AP Wakf Board in 1997. He was recommended for pre-release by the screening committee constituted in 2020. The recommendation is pending with the Governor, as Article 161 enables the Governor to grant pardon to life convicts.

As there was no action from authorities to pre-release Sarwar, his son Sarfaraz approached the High Court for directions to the authorities, who were asked to take steps to pre-release Sarwar in 2021.

The authorities rejected the application on the ground that the case falls under the category of murder of 'public servant' while performing duty, which entails minimum actual sentence of 18 years with remand period and total sentence of 24 years including the period of remission, as stipulated therein.

The court pointed out that the murder was committed at 9.30 pm, which was not duty time. It ordered the authorities to take steps to release Sarwar. As this was not complied with, a contempt case was filed against the officials.

Ravi Gupta submitted that the file was pending with the Governor and contended that there was no enabling provision in the rules for pursuing matters with the Governor.

Justice Lakshman said that the contention of the principal secretary and other officials was absurd and unwarranted.

By observing so, the court gave directions to authorities to follow cases related to remission. It also directed the authorities to take steps to release Sarwar this Independence Day.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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