Amend Rules of Business: court

Says files cannot go to Governor directly

The Kerala High Court, on Thursday, called for an immediate amendment to the Rules of Business of the State government.

The court said the procedure that allowed short-circuiting the Cabinet and circulation of files relating to the grant of pardons, reprieves and remission of punishment or commutation of sentence to the Governor without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers was unconstitutional.

GO quashed

Justice V. Ramkumar passed the judgment while quashing a Government Order remitting a three-month imprisonment awarded to Subair Kunju and Abdul Kalam, former police officers at Venjaramood police station in Thiruvananthapuram, for assaulting C. Balachandran of Varkala and his wife in connection with a property dispute case.

The judgment was passed while allowing a petition challenging the order of remission issued in 2005.

The court said that under rules 34(1)(i) and 34(2)(i) of the Rules of Business, proposals for granting pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or remission or commutation of a sentence in pursuance of Article 161 of the Constitution had to be submitted to the Chief Minister, who, in turn, had to submit the same to the Governor before issuing orders. While stressing the need for an amendment, the court said a previous Law Secretary had requested the government to do so in tune with the constitutional mandate and judicial verdicts. The advice of the Law Secretary was “received with some reservation, if not resentment, by the Governor's Office.”

The court said the convicts had submitted their application for remission even without “entering the portal of the prison for even a day.” The State government had entertained their application in flagrant violation of clause (a) of Section 432(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, under which the application for premature release could be filed and entertained only if the applicant was in prison. The order of remission was passed without calling for the opinion of the presiding judge.

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