On November 8 this year, the Tamil Nadu government released 13 prisoners convicted for life for the massacre of six Dalit men in Melavalavu village in 1997. The move led to a swift rebuke from the Madras High Court for what it saw as the government’s haste in releasing the convicts on grounds of good conduct. The move also caused disquiet among activists and Scheduled Castes.
Remissions for life sentences have been something of a grey area, complicated by recent statements from the Supreme Court to the effect that life imprisonment should be for the remainder of a person’s natural life.
Discussing the Constitutional position on remission and the procedures through which it is exercised are Anup Surendranath, who teaches Constitutional Law at the National Law University, Delhi, and Nandita Rao, Delhi High Court advocate and Additional Standing Counsel, Criminal, for the Delhi Government.