Taking up petition highlighting that the Punjab government had adopted a ‘pick and choose’ policy for granting premature release to prisoners, the Punjab and Haryana high court has summoned the Punjab home secretary to explain as to why contempt proceedings may not be initiated against him.
The directions came from the court headed by justice SK Mittal on a contempt-of-court petition filed by a murder convict, Chand Singh. Chand was awarded life sentence by the trial court.
The petitioner’s advocate informed the court that the state government had itself admitted that three co-accused who were convicted and punished along with the applicant had been prematurely released, though they had also committed the same offence. The counsel had submitted that on July 30 last year, the high court had directed the state government to reconsider the petitioner’s case for premature release but the authorities failed to comply with the court directions.
“I am prima facie of the opinion that while rejecting the claim of the petitioner with regard to premature release, the said order (July 30) has been completely overlooked, which prima facie appears to be contemptuous,” said justice Mittal.
The petitioner, a Sangrur resident, is in custody since February 1991 and had already undergone more than 12 years of actual sentence and more than 18 years of the total sentence, including remissions. But the state government had in November 2012 rejected his claim for premature release, contrary to the policy decision taken by it on July 8, 1991.
When the petitioner approached the high court last year, the court set aside the state government’s decision of rejecting his premature release by considering his case in ‘heinous cases’ and directed to reconsider it within three months.