HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court faulted the principal secretary, home, and the Director-General of Police, prisons, for not complying with its orders to release a life prisoner for good conduct, though he completed around 25 years in prison.
The authorities had not only not obeyed the court orders but also rejected the representation made by the prisoner to release him prematurely on remission. The officials stated that the Governor had to decide whether or not to release him on remission.
Justice Kanneganti Lalitha was dealing with a petition by the son of Sk. Zakaria, send to life in prison for the murder of one M.A. Khadeer, former deputy secretary of the AP State Wakf Board. Zakaria has been in jail since 2003; before that, he was in remand for around five years.
The Ranga Reddy district probation officer in 2011 had submitted an enquiry report that the conduct of Zakaria in jail was very good and since the policy of the government was to reform the prisoner to be properly rehabilitated he may be released. Since no action was taken on the recommendation, Zakaria’s son approached the court thrice since 2015.
A contempt case was filed against the officials. While hearing the contempt petition, the court in 2020 refuted the submissions of the home ministry officials who said the Governor was the deciding authority in this case and the prisoner was not eligible for release as he had murdered a public servant and had to complete 18 years of jail term apart from the time period of remand.
The court, in its order, said that the power under Article 161 of the Constitution could be exercised by the state governments but not by the Governor on his or her own. Moreover, the court clearly stated that the Governor would decide the remission in the cases when the life convicts did not complete 14 years of jail.
As the orders in the contempt case were not complied with, Zakaria’s again approached the High Court. Pushpinder Kaur, counsel for the petitioner, brought to the notice of the court as per the nominal roll of the convict as on March 27, 2020, the petitioner’s father had completed 24 years, five months and 14 days as on October 31, 2020. Justice Lalitha also said that the authorities had scant regard to court orders.
Taking the issue seriously, Justice Lalitha directed the officials to consider the case of Zakaria, in terms of Supreme Court orders and take appropriate orders within three weeks....