QUASHING A Haryana government decision of not releasing a murder convict under its policy for premature release of those sentenced to life imprisonment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Governor to reconsider within three months whether the crime committed by the lifer exhibited brutality for which he must first undergo 14 years’ imprisonment to come into the consideration zone for relief.
“…it is for the Governor to consider whether it is a murder with brutality and then decide as to whether in such case, the petitioner is to be released prematurely or not. Let the Governor of Haryana reconsider the case in accordance with law and take fresh decision,” the order reads.
The petitioner, Rajender, was convicted in 2002 for murder along with two co-accused by a Hisar court and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Haryana government rejected his plea for release last year. In the petition filed last year, Rajender submitted that he has already completed the 11 years’ actual sentence and is qualified for premature release under the 2002 state policy.
The government’s contention was that the murder was “brutal”, for which he will have to undergo the actual sentence of 14 years’ and with remission, 20 years.
According to the state, he has undergone the actual sentence of 11 years, eight months and 20 days; and with remission 14 years, 8 months and 18 days, whereas, he is required to undergo an actual sentence of 14 years and minimum 20 years with remission.
According to the 2002 policy, for a murder exhibiting brutality “such as cutting body into pieces or burning/dragging the body”, the lifers have to first undergo 14 years’ actual sentence. Rajender’s counsel argued that the body was neither cut into pieces nor burnt or dragged. The state argued those are only examples and brutality can be seen in other circumstances as well.
The court said there were 12 injuries on the body and the trial court also had observed that it was a brutal murder, committed by use of dangerous weapons like ‘gandasa’ (an axe-like tool).
However, the court added that the case was never referred to the Governor in accordance with the policy. Under the policy, cases are to be put up through minister of jails and Chief Minister, Haryana, for orders under Article 161 (Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases) of the Constitution.