States’ power to remit prison term restored

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court on July 23 restored the discretionary powers of the state governments to grant remission to life convicts after freezing it for over a year.

This power, however, cannot be exercised in cases investigated by Central agencies like the CBI or if convicts are tried under Central laws like Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu lifted the stay imposed on July 9, 2014, but said that relaxation would also not apply where the convict has been sentenced to life term in cases of rape and murder.

The court also clarified the interim order would not be applicable in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in which the Centre’s plea against the Tamil Nadu (TN) government’s decision to grant remission for release of the seven life convicts was under consideration.

It also said that the restoration of the states’ power of remission under Sections 432 and  433 of the CrPC to release life convicts may be used for considering relief for those who have undergone prison term of 14 or more years. The court passed its order after several states, including Karnataka, contended that the previous direction came in the way of releasing convicts languishing in jails for several years.

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