DG (Prisons) making endeavour to hold SRB meetings: HC told

The Director General (Prisons) of the Delhi government has informed the Delhi High Court about endeavours being made for holding meetings of the Sentence Review Board (SRB) every three months, after a petition sought contempt action against the authorities for alleged defiance of the directions of the court.

Taking on record the statement of the counsel for DG (Prisons), Justice Jasmeet Singh directed that a responsible officer of the prison department shall file an affidavit to that effect before the next date of hearing.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on December 12.

The plea by advocate Amit Sahni alleged the respondent has continuously violated the directions issued by a division bench of the high court on October 21, 2019 by not convening meetings of the SRB every quarter of each year.

The SRB was formed to review and make recommendations about premature release of prisoners in appropriate cases.

During the hearing, the counsel for the authorities submitted that every endeavour was being made for holding the meetings of the SRB.

The division bench, in its 2019 order, had said, “In view of the aforesaid limited submissions, we direct the respondent authority to convene the meeting of the SRB periodically under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 for reviewing the sentences

awarded to the convicts.

“However, the decision will be taken by the SRB in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to facts of each case which comes before it for reviewing sentence imposed on the convict.”

The order was passed on a PIL by Sahni who had sought direction to the Delhi government and the Director General of Prisons to convene SRB meetings every three months in compliance with the rules.

In the contempt plea, the petitioner said he had filed an RTI application this year seeking information about the number of SRB meetings held in the last few years.

He received a reply in response to his application in August by which he was informed about the SRB meetings convened in the last five years by the Member Secretary, the Director General of Prisons.

The petitioner said, as per the information provided to him, one SRB meeting was convened in 2019, four in 2020, three in 2021, two in 2022 and one in 2023 so far.

“Respondents have committed contempt of court by wilfully disobeying the unequivocal direction of the division bench,” the plea said.

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Sahni had also filed a contempt petition earlier which was disposed of in August 2021, with the court noting that two SRB meetings were convened that year and two more shall be held in the remaining months (September to December 2021) to consider the applications of those seeking remission of sentence.

The plea said as per the SRB order of July 16, 2004 and Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, the board shall meet at least once every quarter.

According to the SRB order and the prison rules, it shall be open to the chairman of the board to convene the meeting more frequently as may be deemed necessary, it added.

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