Guidelines for premature release of convicts are not binding on the state government, Advocate General Ravi Kadam told the Bombay High Court on Friday.
He was replying to petitions of four life convicts from the 1993 serial blasts case seeking premature release saying they had completed 14 years of actual imprisonment. “These are merely guiding principles for prison authorities to recommend premature release of life convicts,” said Kadam.
He pointed out that the guidelines were not exhaustive and covering every offence attracting life imprisonment and therefore the state would decide the cases of convicts.
The convicts had moved court after the home department discarded their plea for premature release in September 2009. Inspector General of Prison had put the convicts under clause 4C of the guidelines, which cover offences committed out of difference in political ideology. The clause required them to undergo imprisonment of 30 years.
The state, however, rejected the plea saying the accused were not covered by the clause and ordered them to serve imprisonment for 60 years.
Their lawyer N N Gawankar contended that the petitioners were convicted for offences that were less serious than murder.
He argued that they were convicted under section 3(3) of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, which did not attract death sentence as one of the punishments whereas Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code attracts death sentence as an alternative punishment.
The court adjourned hearing on the petition after Gawankar sought to challenge constitutional validity of the home department’s order requiring the convicts to undergo 60 years actual imprisonment.