The Allahabad High Coprisonerissued a showcause notice to Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary (Home), asking him to explain why the court should not issue him a notice of contempt for not having framed a policy for the premature release of prisoners.
The court on Monday issued the notice to Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary (Home) in charge of prisons in the state, and asked him to reply “within four weeks why action in contempt will not be initiated against him.” Justice Yashwant Varma issued the order while hearing a contempt of court application against the state filed by a petitioner, whose father is serving a life sentence on charges of comitting a murder, for the last 24 years at Naini Jail here.
The petitioner had, through her counsel Charlie Prakash of the Human Rights Law Network, last year moved the court, pleading premature release of her father on several grounds, including those listed by the UP jail manual and Prisons Act, and a directive by the National Human Rights Commission towards the same. Despite court orders asking the state to frame a policy, the latest of which came from a bench comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Ravindra Kakkad in March last year, the UP government did not frame a policy.
The bench had said, “…it is necessary for the state to apprise the court on whether the state government has any policy with regard to the premature release of convicts who may be languishing in jail for long years and whose age or physical conditions make it inhumane to allow them to remain incarcerated in jail.”
It asked the principal secretary (home) to frame a policy “if there is no policy already in existence and there must be a periodical monitoring of such cases by the setting up of a mechanism to review cases of such persons”, while hearing the petition of a 87-year-old life convict “languishing in Central Jail, Agra, to serve out life imprisonment (who) has become physically very infirm and weak.”
Prakash’s contempt application last year prompted the Allahabad High Court to pull up the UP (home) principal secretary yet again on Monday. “There are 1,500 such prisoners serving years and years of incarceration despite being liable for a premature release if the state frames a policy. UP has not made any (policy) despite repeated court orders,” Prakash said.