Legal Correspondent

Explain reasons for not complying with order on life convicts

  • Bench dispenses with personal appearance for future hearing
  • States insensitive to plight of prisoners: petition

    New Delhi: The Home Secretaries of 12 States on Tuesday appeared before the Supreme Court and filed affidavits explaining the reasons for non-compliance of an order relating to life convicts in jails.

    They appeared before a Bench, comprising Justices H.K. Sema and V.S. Sirpurkar, hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate M.K. Balakrishnan. The petition alleged that thousands of life convicts were languishing in jails even after completing the sentence.

    The 12 States are: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

    Proceedings adjourned

    The Bench took on record the affidavits and dispensed with the Home Secretaries' personal appearance for future hearing. It adjourned the proceedings by four weeks.

    On March 28, the Bench warned that if they failed to appear on April 24, bailable warrants would be issued against them.

    In January, the court took to task the 12 States for not responding to the notice issued in 2004. It was made clear that affidavits should be filed in eight weeks and the State Home Secretary concerned should be personally present in the court if the response was not filed.

    Remission of sentence

    The petitioner alleged that the State Governments were insensitive to the plight of thousands of prisoners who had completed 14 years in jail after the award of life sentence and had unblemished record in the prison.

    The State Governments had the power to grant remission of sentence, but for reasons not known, they were not exercising the same. He said that in this era of fast changing criminal jurisprudence and especially the reformative theory, the case of life convicts deserved a sympathetic treatment.