Updated: July 24, 2015 1:05:24 am
After a year-long hiatus, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed state governments to exercise their power of remission to free convicts if their cases were not investigated by CBI or other central agencies, and the convictions were not under central laws such as now-repealed TADA or POTA.
Modifying its order of July 2014 by which states were restrained from exercising their power of remission, the court said this relaxation would also not apply where the convict has been awarded life term in cases of rape and murder, or when there is a specific court order not to grant remission.
A Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice H L Dattu, said this interim order would not be applicable in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, where the Centre has challenged the Tamil Nadu government’s power to free the convicts. While the state has sought to release them on remission, the Centre has said the case was probed by CBI and hence only the Centre could take the decision.
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The court in February 2014 stayed the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
By a separate decision, the court had commuted the death sentence of three of these convicts into life term. The restoration of the states’ power of remission under sections 432, 433 of CrPC may be used for considering relief for those life convicts who have undergone prison term of 14 or more years.
In all such cases where the states are now permitted to release prisoners, the President and Governors can also exercise their constitutional power to grant pardon or mercy, as per the order.
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