“Are you going to use your discretionary powers to consider pleas for the premature release submitted by terminally ill convicts serving their prison terms,” the Bombay high court asked the state government on Monday.
Under section 432 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the state government has wide powers to grant remission at any time with or without imposing conditions, the division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi told assistant public prosecutor Madhavi Mhatre.
The state can remit the complete sentence or any part of it, the judges reminded the prosecutor, and sought to know if the state government wanted to use the discretionary power in
case of terminally ill inmates serving prison terms awarded to them.
The court was hearing a petition filed by an inmate of the Kolhapur Central Prison seeking premature release on the grounds of his terminal ailment. “I don’t want to die in jail,” his hand-written petition states, adding, “I would prefer to die at my home, in presence of my family members.”
In March 2007, a trial court in Mumbai convicted the petitioner, who is HIV positive and also suffers from spinal tuberculosis, for robbery. The trial court sentenced him to seven years of rigorous imprisonment, of which he has already served six years and one month.
He is presently admitted in Kolhapur Civil Hospital and is about to be shifted to KEM Hospital in Mumbai, because of the critical nature of his illnesses.
The court has now directed the state government to treat the petition as an application under section 432 of CrPC and take a decision on it within four weeks.