Even after completing their life sentence there are seven convicts who are languishing behind bars in Burail Jail,Chandigarh.
While three of them are in jail for nearly 19 years,the remaining four have been undergoing sentence for over 17 years. This information has been furnished by the Model Burail Jail authorities to the Legal Services Authority of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The information was sought after some of the Jail inmates wrote to the high court judges seeking premature release. One such letter was sent by a convict earlier this year. Following this,the Legal Services Authority gathered information of those convicts who are languishing behind bars even after undergoing their life imprisonment of 14 years.
The seven convicts who are awaiting release are: Gurmeet Singh,Lakhwinder Singh,Shamsher Singh,all awarded life for involvement in assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. They are behind bars since 1995. The other four are: Matloob Ahmed,Sanjeev Singh,Manjyoti and Ganga Sawhney. Convicted and awarded life on charges of murder.
Some of them have submitted that they had written to the Chandigarh Administration seeking release but to no avail. It has been alleged that the Administration has not taken a final decision on their representations leaving them in the lurch. It has also been alleged by the inmates that in few instances,the Administration has refused to entertain their applications without giving any reason whatsoever.
Significantly,in the information furnished by the Jail authorities to the High Court Legal Services Authority,no reason has been given to explain the non-release of these convicts. The authority will take up the case of such convicts with the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the judicial side.
A demand for framing of a policy for deciding premature release of such convicts within a time frame will be raised. The existing policy does not stipulate the deadline for release of convicts who have completed their life term. An application seeking release cannot be allowed to remain pending for indefinite period. The government need to come up with a revised policy setting a deadline for the government authorities for deciding such applications, said a senior officer of the high court legal services authority.
Also,even if the authorities decide upon the applications,no reasons or explanation for rejection are given which makes it difficult for the convicts to challenge their orders in the high court. Even if state governments decide not to release a convict,cogent reasons ought to be given, he added.