Expressing concern over the pitiable condition of convicts who have lost their mental balance awaiting release from jails,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday asked the Punjab government if it has a policy in place for such convicts. This comes a day after The Indian Express reported that 94 convicts in Punjab,76 in Haryana and seven in Chandigarh are languishing in jails for over two decades even after completing their life sentences. Some inmates in Punjab jails have lost their mental balance and are thus unable to submit applications seeking release.
In some cases,the states are yet to decide on the fate of applications of convicts seeking release. In other cases,the deputy commissioners of the areas where the convicts hail from are yet to confirm that the convicts belong to the said areas. Surprisingly,in some cases,the states have rejected applications seeking release,without giving any reason whatsoever. On Thursday,a division bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that just because such convicts lost their mental balance,they cannot be left to rot behind bars even after completing their life sentence. He asked Punjab to explain what steps are being taken to ensure that cases of such convicts are taken up with the authorities for their release.
Advocate Ravi Kamal Gupta,counsel for Legal Services Authority of Punjab and Haryana High Court it had sought information from Punjab,Haryana and Chandigarh regarding convicts who even after completing their life sentences (14 years) are yet to be released pointed out several lacunas in the revised policy prepared by Punjab for release of convicts.
An application was also moved by the Authority on behalf of such convicts in Punjab,Haryana and Chandigarh. Treating the application as a PIL,the court on Thursday issued notices to Haryana and Chandigarh. A bunch of petitions concerning such convicts in Punjab is already pending adjudication in the court.