The NDA government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that crime victims should be heard before states grant remission to life imprisonment convicts involved in heinous offences such as murder and terrorist activities.
Appearing before a Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, solicitor general (SG) Ranjit Kumar assailed Tamil Nadu government’s decision to remit the remaining jail terms of Rajiv Gandhi killers and release them.
The Centre has challenged the state’s order on the ground that no remission could be given without its consent as a central agency, CBI, prosecuted the assassins.
Expanding the scope of the reference before the bench the SG said just as the convicts seek a right of remission, the victims should also enjoy the right to be heard by the government before releasing such prisoners. Section 432 of the CrPC empowers states/ union territories to release all class of prisoners on remission.
Kumar asked if victims have a right at any stage to be heard while death penalty is taken up for commuting into life imprisonment. He also asked whether the state can, without referring to the victims or their families decide on remission, raising a pertinent question on the right of victims under the criminal justice system.
On July 8, the bench had restrained all states/UTs from granting remissions to life convicts until it decides the controversy relating to remission granted by Tamil Nadu to Rajiv Gandhi killers.