September 9, 2009 5:03:12 am
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday orally observed that the Maharashtra Home department order to keep 93 blast convicts who had prayed for premature release as they had already spent 14 years in prison behind bars for 60 years in accordance with the state governments latest guidelines was not acceptable.
The observation came in response to petitions filed by 1993 serial blasts convicts who face imprisonment for 60 years or until they attain the age of 65 as per the state governments latest guidelines for those convicted in terror offences.
This is not acceptable, Justice Bilal Nazki said.
The court had last month pulled up the state Home department for leaking its order on the matter of premature release of the petitioners to the press before the court was informed of the order.
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The court had expressed displeasure at not being informed about the order during the hearing on August 12,even though it was passed on August 4 as per the report that appeared in a section of the media. The court had then sought an explanation.
On Tuesday,an affidavit by Anna Dani,Principal Secretary (Appeals and Security),stated they had no intention of keeping the court in the dark about the decision. Dani also stated that petitioners lawyer N N Gawankar was aware of the order as it was communicated to the convicts. Gawankar,however,told the court that he was not aware of the order and had come to know about it through the press.
Besides,how will I know about it from convicts who are lodged in Aurangabad prison, Gawankar argued.
Dani also apologised to the court and said she has taken up the matter with the authorities concerned and asked the office of the public prosecutor for proper coordination henceforth. At this,justice Nazki said as to who she (Dani) was to dictate such things to the prosecutors office.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai submitted that the state advocate general (AG) was not aware of the Home department order and that she would communicate the same to the AG. Pai sought a days adjournment.
The petition for premature release had been filed by convicts Salim Mira Shaikh,Niyaz Shaikh,Shaikh Ali,and Moin Qureshi.
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