Punjab can’t remit sentences, will move SC: DGP
Putting forth the state’s perspective on the demand of release of Sikh prisoners, Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini on Wednesday underlined that the Supreme Court has restrained state governments from exercising the power for remission of sentence to life convicts.chandigarh Updated: Jan 08, 2015 15:57 IST
Putting forth the state’s perspective on the demand of release of Sikh prisoners, Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini on Wednesday underlined that the Supreme Court has restrained state governments from exercising the power for remission of sentence to life convicts.
The matter is in spotlight as former militant Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa is again on an indefinite fast in Ambala to seek release of Sikhs who he claims are in jail despite having completed their life sentence.
But Saini, while stressing that life imprisonment means the rest of the convict’s life in prison, said only two of the men named in the demands by Khalsa and others were eligible for consideration for premature release, having spent a minimum period in jail as per the state’s rules. “Various states have their own policies for premature release of life convicts,” he said at a press conference, adding that premature release was a concession, not a matter of right.
However, he announced that the state government would soon move the SC to seek release of convicts who fulfill the policy conditions. “The matter has been examined at the level of the state government, and it was decided that an appropriate application would be moved before the SC praying for early decision on the release of convicts,” the state police chief said.
In all, Saini said, of the 26,000 prisoners lodged in Punjab’s jails, 3,600 are lifers and of them only 182 convicts have completed the minimum sentence and hence could be considered for early release provided they fulfill the policy parameters of the state.
As per the policy of the Punjab government, depending on the nature of the crime, those who have spent 10 years in jail and undergone a sentence of 14 years including any remissions; or those who have spent 12 years in jail and undergone sentence of 18 years with remission; those who have spent 14 years in jail and undergone a sentence of 20 years with remission; or those who spent 18 years in jail and have undergone a sentence of 20 years with remission; are eligible for premature release.
Saini was accompanied by ADGP (jails) RS Meena and ADGP (intelligence) HS Dhillon.
Asked if the state police would allow Gurbaksh to carry out a protest march, he only said the government would examine the situation and take a decision accordingly.
‘None from Gurbaksh list eligible’
Of the seven men whose release has been sought by fasting Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh, as per DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, only Lal Singh is currently lodged in a Punjab prison, at Nabha. “But Punjab government cannot take a decision on his early release either as he was convicted in Gujarat. It is the prerogative of the Gujarat government as per their policy,” he said.
As per Punjab’s policy, depending on the crime, those who have spent 10 years in jail and undergone a sentence of 14 years including remissions; those with 12 years in jail and 18 years’ sentence with remission; 14 years in jail and sentence of 20 years with remission; or those who have spent 18 years in jail and undergone a sentence of 20 years with remission; are eligible for premature release.
As for the list of 120 prisoners by advocate Jaspal Singh Manjpur that has been taken up by the SGPC, Saini said 34 were on bail, 22 outside Punjab and hence not under the state’s jurisdiction; 12 already acquitted; seven unidentified due to sketchy information; and three had been transferred to other states.
Of the remaining 42, 16 are undertrials, 17 are not serving life imprisonment, eight are indeed lifers, and one is on a death row. Of the 8 lifers, only five are in Punjab, of which only two have completed the minimum sentence to be eligible for early release, Saini said.