Though Delhi lieutenant governor Tejendra Khanna’s office has put on hold the order to cut short the life sentence of Kishori Lal (48) —jailed for murdering eight Sikhs in the 1984 riots in the national Capital — after protests, there are several other life convicts in Tihar Jail with a similar penal background but whose cases were not considered for pardon.
Om Singh, lodged in jail for 19 years, is one of the several convicts whose requests to pardon their remaining prison term was not recommended by the Sentence Review Board (SRB), said senior advocate HS Phoolka, who has been fighting cases for the 1984 riots’ victims families.
Three days after Hindustan Times reported the L-G’s decision to ‘commute’ Lal’s sentence, his office put the order on hold on Wednesday.
“Convict Om Singh’s request was not considered by the SRB on the grounds that he had been convicted for multiple murders, three in all, in two separate cases,” Phoolka said.
Singh was convicted of three murders committed in Nand Nagri in east Delhi between 1991 and 1993.
“Singh had filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court in 2009, requesting his case be considered by the Sentence Review Board,” said Phoolka.
In November 2009, the court said his plea should be considered but the jail authorities did not recommend his name on the grounds that he had been convicted of multiple murders, Phoolka said.
“It should be examined how Kishori’s sentence was commuted though he was convicted of eight murders in three separate cases,” Phoolka said.
Mohan Singh, chairman of a Sikh body fighting for riot victims’ families, echoed Phoolka’s views.
Phoolka said the criteria to select life convicts for pardon should be made “transparent and uniform”.
Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta refused to comment. Another jail source said: “If there is a court order, we consider a convict’s case for commutation.”
The chief minister heads the SRB, an advisory panel. Members including the chief probation officer, director general of prisons, representatives of the district sessions judge and the police chief.
According to law, a convict should have served at least 14 years of the life term to be eligible for pardon.