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Key Takeaways

  • An undertrial prisoner in Uttarakhand has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the State's High-Power Committee (HPC) that refuses the privilege of parole to undertrials charged with offences punishable by more than 7 years in prison.
  • Anil Saini, represented by Advocate Rishi Malhotra, filed the petition.
  • The petition requests that the UK State issue the required orders for the petitioner's release on parole as ordered by the Apex Court.

Background

  • Saini, who is on trial and has been in judicial custody since September 29, has already served 1.5 years of his actual sentence, and his plea relates to the Apex Court's May 7 ruling, in which a slew of directions were issued to decongest prisons.
  • In its order, the Supreme Court instructed the High­ Powered Committees formed by the State Governments/Union Territories to consider the release of prisoners in accordance with the guidelines (such as, for example, the SOP laid down by NALSA) that they adopted last year.

Assertions in the plea

  • According to the petition, the HPC of Uttarakhand was intended to refer to Supreme Court orders to issue appropriate directions regarding the release of prisoners on parole or interim bail from Uttrakhand jails.
  • However, the HPC followed the conditions that, except in a few cases, the benefit of Supreme Court orders could be granted in all other offences involving convicts/undertrials.POCSO Act, Sexual Offenses Against Women, Rioting and Warfare Against the State, Counterfeit Currency, Child Kidnapping, Anti-Competition, Commercial and Economic Offenses, Gangsters Act, and NDPS were among the exceptional cases.
  • The plea contends that, despite the Apex Court's strong instructions and concern, the UK HPC deviated from the aforementioned exceptions and further directed that such inmates, including undertrials, who do not fall under the aforementioned exceptions but are convicted or awaiting trials for offences carrying sentences of more than 7 years will not be eligible for parole or temporary bail.
  • The HPC order had two major shortcomings, according to the petition: Whether the category of undertrials is consistent with convicts and the reasoning for establishing a line of demarcation between cases in which the sentence is longer than seven years.
  • The plea notes that he is an undertrial who is awaiting trial for possible offences that could result in a sentence of more than seven years if proven by the prosecution.
  • "The fallacy is that no one knows what will happen in his appeal, and even though it is concluded the petitioner will be found guilty, it is still unknown how many sentences the trial court will impose.”
  • Further, "to refuse the petitioner the privilege of parole would not only be in complete breach of his Constitutional rights as envisaged under Art.21 of the Constitution, but also a direct violation of the Supreme Court orders, which was to decongest the prisons in order to reduce the spread of covid-19 in jails."
  • Finally, the petition requests that the UK State issue the required orders to release the petitioner on parole as ordered by the Apex Court.

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