The Supreme Court has recently opined that the concerned government may seek reports by a qualified psychologist after interacting with or interviewing the convict who has applied for premature release as it suggested various aspects to be considered while dealing with such applications.
A bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and Prashant Kumar Mishra’s suggestions came while disposing of a petition filed by a murder convict seeking appropriate direction to the authorities concerned to prematurely release him.
The top court has directed the Remission Board to reconsider the petitioner Rajo alias Rajwa alias Rajendra Mandal’s application for remission afresh, considering the reports of the police and other authorities, the post-prison record of the petitioner, the remissions earned (including that which is earned for good conduct) his age, health condition, family circumstances, and his potential for social engagement, in a positive manner.
While deciding the petition, the court also suggested various parameters to be considered, when dealing with the application of remission.
“The Board thus should not entirely rely either on the presiding judge or the report prepared by the police. In this court’s considered view, it would also serve the ends of justice if the appropriate government had the benefit of a report contemporaneously prepared by a qualified psychologist after interacting/interviewing the convict that has applied for premature release,” the top court said in its August 25’s order.

“The Bihar Prison Manual, 2012 enables a convict to earn remissions, which are limited to one-third of the total sentence imposed. Special remission for good conduct, in addition, is granted by the rules. If a stereotypical approach in denying the benefit of remission, which ultimately results in premature release, is repeatedly adopted, the entire idea of limiting incarceration for long periods (sometimes spanning a third or more of a convict’s lifetime and in others, result in an indefinite sentence), would be defeated. This could result in a sense of despair and frustration among inmates, who might consider themselves reformed– but continue to be condemned in prison,” the court said.
The top court said, “In each case, the appropriate government has to be cognizant of the latent (not always) prejudices of the crime, that the police as well as the investigating agency, may be citing – especially in a case such as the present one, where the slain victims were police personnel themselves, i.e., members of the police force.”
“These biases may inform the report, and cannot be given determinative value. Doing so will potentially deflect the appropriate government from the facts relevant for consideration for premature release, and instead, focus almost entirely upon facts which evoke a retributive response,” the top court further added.
Apart from the other considerations, the appropriate government should while considering the potential of the convict to commit crimes in the future, whether there remains any fruitful purpose of continued incarceration, and the socio-economic conditions, review: the convict’s age, state of health, familial relationships and the possibility of reintegration, the extent of earned remission, the top court opined.
The top court also suggested that to look into aspects like whether the convict has attained any educational qualification whilst in custody, volunteer services offered, job/work done, jail conduct, whether they were engaged in any socially aimed or productive activity, and the overall development as a human being.
The petitioner in the matter was serving a sentence of life imprisonment in a murder case and approached the court seeking appropriate direction to the first respondent to prematurely release him, on the ground that he has been in custody for 24 years without a grant of remission or parole. He was convicted on May 24 2001 by a local court for killing three persons including two police personnel.
After the completion of the mandatory 14 years’ actual imprisonment and 20 years of custody with remission, the petitioner’s case (application dated 14.04.2021) was considered by the Remission Board on May 19, 2021. The Petitioner said that the Board rejected his application for premature release – despite a favourable report by the Probation Officer and Superintendent of Police – noting the adverse report by the Presiding Judge. (ANI)