State’s prerogative to amend prison manual: Centre to SC on Anand Mohan’s release | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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State’s prerogative to amend prison manual: Centre to SC on Anand Mohan’s release

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 28, 2024 05:13 PM IST

Mohan, who was serving life sentence for killing a public servant in 1994, was granted remission after the Bihar government amended the state prison manual in April 2023

It is the state’s prerogative to amend the prison manual, the Centre has told the Supreme Court, refraining from commenting on the correctness of the Bihar government’s decision to amend the norms that enabled the early release of former Member of Parliament (MP) Anand Mohan in a murder case.

Mohan was serving life sentence for killing a public servant in 1994. (HT file photo)
Mohan was serving life sentence for killing a public servant in 1994. (HT file photo)

Mohan, who was serving life sentence for killing a public servant in 1994, was granted remission after the Bihar government amended the state prison manual in April 2023.

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The affidavit filed by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) early this month said, “The subject matter ‘prisons’ and ‘persons detained therein’ falls under State List as per Entry 4 of List II of Seventh Schedule to Constitution. Hence, any decision to amend the Prison Manual of the State rests with the respective state government.”

Mohan was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of former Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiah in December 1994.

Also Read: Bihar defends Anand Mohan’s early release in Supreme Court

His wife, Umadevi Krishnaiah had approached the top court last year challenging the April 10, 2023, decision of the Bihar government amending the Bihar Prison Manual by which convicts such as Mohan suffering life imprisonment for killing of public servant became eligible for premature release after 14 years imprisonment.

The Bihar government notification amended Rule 481 of the state prison manual by deleting the words “or for murder of public servant on duty”, the offence under which Mohan was undergoing sentence.

The Centre said, “It is the prerogative of the respective state government to formulate/modify the prison manuals as the subject matter falls exclusively under State List.”

However, the Centre claimed that for providing guidance and assistance to states, they brought out the Model Prison Manual 2016 which has so far been adopted by 19 states and all union territories.

Bihar is one among the nine states yet to adopt the Model Prison Manual, the Centre informed the Court.

The other states yet to confirm adopting the manual are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.

The Centre stated that the 2016 manual also prescribes the procedure and eligibility for premature release.

Referring to Mohan’s case dealing with ‘murder of public servant on duty’, the MHA affidavit said, “It is to be noted that this particular provision does not figure in the general guidelines on premature release, as provided in the Model Prisons Manual, 2016.”

Although the Court had issued notice on Umadevi’s petition in May 2023, it was only early this month on February 6 that the Union government appeared in the matter and sought time to file a response.

Even the top court had commented on the long delay shown by Centre and said, “It is not at your sweet will that whenever you want you will appear before the Supreme Court,” while permitting a last opportunity for filing response.

The case was directed to be listed for February 27 but could not be taken up as the bench did not convene. The matter is expected to be taken up next week.

The petition filed through advocate Tanya Shree alleged that the amendment made to the prison manual was done to benefit Mohan.

Prior to this, the prevailing rule on premature release was governed by the 2002 policy by which life convicts such as Mohan would be eligible for remission on completion of 20 years imprisonment.

Moreover, the petition pointed out that the remission order could not be issued as Mohan had 32 criminal cases pending against him and enjoyed political support, which could be detrimental for trial in other cases.

Even at the time when Krishnaiah was killed, Mohan was a member of Bihar Assembly.

While granting remission, the petition argued that the state should consider past criminal antecedents, social status and the potential of the accused to commit crime in future before ordering a convict’s early release.

It even spoke about framing a uniform guideline for premature release of prisoners. It was on this aspect that the Union government filed its response.

The state government had earlier justified its decision while Mohan questioned the maintainability of the petition as remission is between the convict and the state.

The state government has already submitted in Court the original records leading to the remission order.

The Court had early this month directed Mohan to deposit his passport with the police and report every 15 days to the local police station.

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