Reviewing remission – SC should lay down norms for release of convicts on remission

Source: The post is based on the article “Reviewing remission – SC should lay down norms for release of convicts on remission” published in The Hindu on 24th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Criminal Justice System.

Relevance: About the remission of convicts.

News: Recently, the Gujarat government released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano murder and gang rape case of 2002 under its remission and premature release policy. This should be subject to judicial review.

About the recent case on remission of convicts

During the case, the Supreme Court transferred the case from Gujarat (where the crime occurred) to Maharashtra to ensure a fair and impartial trial. Later the convict petitioned to know whether Gujarat government or the Maharashtra government was the appropriate government for considering their plea for remission.

In that, the Supreme Court held that the Gujarat should consider the matter, and not Maharashtra. During the case, the court also said that the remission should be considered under a policy framed in 1992, as that was the prevailing policy on the date of their 2008 conviction.

Read more: Remission or premature release of convicts: The injustice of exceptionalism
What did the government permitted a remission of convicts?
Read here: Explained: Why the 11 convicts in Bilkis Bano gangrape case walked out of jail
What are the concerns associated with the recent remission of convicts?

1) State government made a decision on its own without consulting with the Centre. Under Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, such consultation with the Centre is mandatory in cases probed by the CBI.

2) Ideally, a remission panel should comprise senior government officials in charge of home or law, a district judge, the prison superintendent, and officers who deal with probation and rehabilitation of offenders. But in the recent remission, the panel consists of legislators.  The presence of political members invalidate the decision.

3) The objection of the district judge concerned was disregarded while remission. Thus creates confusion on the legitimacy of the remission.

Read more: The Issue of Marital Rape – Explained, pointwise
What should be done in future while remitting convicts?

The Supreme Court should constitute a Bench a) To reconsider judgments that allow the remission policy obtaining on the date of conviction, instead of the policy currently in force, b) To address whether the ‘appropriate government’ should be the one in the State where the crime took place, or the State to which the trial was transferred on judicial orders should be responsible for remission, c) To formulate a rational remission policy that will be based on humanitarian considerations and have the scope for reform of the offenders and their sense of remorse.

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