A division bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice P Velmurugan before whom a plea moved by a life convict in such regard came up said: “Quite interestingly, the TN Government, which is opposing the petitioner’s premature release, has gone on record before the Supreme Court in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case that the life convicts therein have already undergone sentence under ineligible Sections and the remission of their premature release is only with regard to Section 302 IPC for which the executive power vests only with the State of Tamil Nadu.”
In the present case, the petitioner seeking premature release has been under incarceration for the past 19 years which included imprisonment for conviction under 397 IPC (robbery) from Dec 10, 2001 to Oct 30, 2009. Thereafter, the life conviction commenced on Nov 1, 2009 and as of February 28, 2018 he had completed a little less than 9 years, which is the cut-off date prescribed in GO for granting premature release.
Based on this, the bench held that the sentence already undergone by the petitioner under ineligible Section 397 cannot be put against him as he is undergoing life imprisonment from Nov 1, 2009 onwards and completed 11 years and five months as of Feb 25, 2018 which is the cut-off date.
“Therefore, even on a case-to-case basis, as per the dictum of the Supreme Court, the petitioner is entitled to premature release,” the bench held while making it clear that the State is bound by the stand taken in Rajiv assassination case and cannot have different yardstick and parameter in respect of similarly placed persons.
It also took into consideration the conduct and good behaviour of the convict wherein he went on leave without any escort and returned to jail without causing any disturbances. The bench, citing another Supreme Court order, also accounted for the fact that the prisoner had successfully completed MA (Political Science), BA Lit. in Tamil and various other vocational courses viz. diploma in animation, certificate course in refrigeration and air-conditioner repair, and vocational diploma in general duty assistant.