Although awarded life imprisonment,Neki Nalwa and her paramour Himmat Singh might well not stay behind bars for more longer time. For,the seven years of time spent behind bars by the duo prior to their conviction will benefit them legally in coming out of prison.
Not only are they now entitled to parole but post-conviction they have become entitled to regular bail too. As per rules,prior to conviction an accused can only apply for interim bail. Behind bars since 2005,Neki and Himmat,awarded life terms on Wednesday for murdering Sukhwinderjit Singh,a Quark city engineer,were denied interim bail by the Court.
Legal experts say that the duo can apply for bail after their conviction and will stand to benefit in demanding release on account of the seven years they have remained behind bars prior to their conviction.
They may not be released on bail with immediate effect but normally the Courts entertain bail applications of guilty four to six months after they are convicted. As a general practice,if an accused has spent more than five years behind bars prior to his conviction,the Courts,based on merit,grant bail to the accused, said Advocate MJS Bedi,a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Also,the duo can seek release on the ground of parole. Legal luminaries say that though the sentence awarded is life imprisonment (14 years),the convicts are released much before the actual sentence – around 10 years. This is keeping in view the facilities of special remission (awarded by the State) paroles which a convict is entitled to. Remissions are concessions/ reductions allowed in actual sentence while paroles are interim release demanded on account of emergency/ special grounds for instance a wedding or death in the family.
It might be mentioned here that unless specified in the judgment,a guilty will remain behind bars till his life,the maximum sentence to be undergone by a convict is 14 years.
A senior lawyer said that after the conviction,Neki and Himmat Singh can apply for parole after four months. Once convicted,the convicts can avail the facility of parole on merit. The duo have three options available for immediate release. Firstly,they can apply for parole after four months. Secondly,they can seek bail on the ground they have already spent seven years behind the bars. Lastly,they can request the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide their appeal expeditiously without delay.
The two can certainly demand immediate release on account of benefit of long custody (seven years spent behind bars). They can also appeal to the High Court to decide their appeal against the order of the lower Court expeditiously, said senior lawyer Vinod Ghai.
On Wednesday,not finding it to be a rarest of rare case which would invite a death sentence,the Court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge awarded life imprisonment to Neki and her paramour Himmat Singh alias Brandy. In a detailed judgment which runs into 117 pages,the Mohali Court had ruled,It stands amply proved that accused Himmat Singh and Neki Nalwa had conspired with each other and in pursuance of the said conspiracy,they committed the murder of Sukhwinderjit Singh,as per prosecution story,by firing a shot from the pistol.
Contradictions in Nekis statements,telephone call records and tower location helped the prosecution establish its case against the two. The third accused,Paramveer Singh,was awarded six months imprisonment by the Court on June 4 with a penalty of Rs 500. He was released on bail the same day (June 4).
In 2005 Sukhwinderjit Singh,a Quark City engineer,was shot dead at Sector 69,Mohali when he was with his wife Neki Nalwa. Neki had an extramarital affair with Brandy and the two planned his murder. Himmat got five cartridges from Paramvir on the excuse that he needed bullets to fire at a marriage party. Even after killing Sukhwinderjit,Brandy went to a marriage party where he fired some rounds of bullets to project that he was attending a wedding.