The Himachal Pradesh government had to re-arrest eight life convicts whose sentences it had remitted on January 26 without knowing that the Supreme Court had frozen the state’s power to do so.
After the Supreme Court order reached the state government, it decided to recall these prisoners — Lekhraj, Ranjit Singh, Chet Ram, Keti Ram, Chander Mohan, Amar Singh, Kashmir, and Vimal Singh. However, now the Supreme Court has restored to the state governments their discretion to remit the sentences of life convicts, so before the next Republic Day, Himachal Pradesh will again prepare the case of these prisoners to put before the state sentence review board.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh said it was a critical issue, and to re-arrest prisoners liberated on Republic Day had hurt him personally. “The issue will be resolved and the high court direction taken care of,” he said. On July 9, 2014, the Supreme Court had stayed the state governments from using their power of remission under Sections 432 (power to suspend and remit sentences) and 433 (power to commute sentence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to release life convicts. This July, the Supreme Court restored the power to the states but with a condition not to free anyone whose prison term is specified to continue till the end of life.
The issue came to light when the Centre challenged the Tamil Nadu decision to remit the sentences of all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.