Former MP Anand Mohan tells SC remission granted to him not arbitrary

Former Member of Parliament Anand Mohan who was serving life term in the 1994 murder case of then Gopalganj District Magistrate G Krishnaiah in Bihar has told the Supreme Court that grant of remission to him was not arbitrary, misinformed, and unreasonable.

In his reply to a plea filed by Uma Krishnaiah, the wife of the slain officer, challenging Bihar government’s decision to grant him remission, Mohan said the grant for remission was the result of a comprehensive and rigorous process with sufficient checks and balances.

“The decision was not arbitrary, misinformed, and unreasonable. All aspects and factors embodied in the prison rules and statute were taken into consideration, and it was only after a thorough assessment that the state decided to grant remission to the answering respondent (Anand Mohan)”, he said.

Mohan said the grant of remission in the present case has been in accordance with law and he was eligible for the remission vide amendment notification dated April 10, 2023 as it is a beneficial amendment with retrospective effect.

“Even otherwise, the answering respondent is also eligible for remission vide notifications December 10, 2002, and December 12, 2012”, he said in his reply.

He submitted that in the criminal justice system, the purpose of remission and conviction are different and the question of conviction is often grounded in retribution and deterrence where the purposive intent is usually to “punish” the accused for a crime committed against the society.

“On the other hand, remission is a stage after conviction and incarceration, wherein the welfare of the prisoner assumes importance and centrality. Here, the assessment is guided by the question of rehabilitation of the prisoner who has already served a considerable part of his sentence”, he said.

Mohan added that the interests or rights of the victim don’t assume importance in this assessment as the focus is only on the welfare of the prisoner and the society at large.

Referring to the case, he said that in the present case, there were 36 people on trial out of which 29 were acquitted by the trial court and out of the remaining seven, only he was convicted by the High Court.

“It is pertinent to mention that the answering respondent has already served more than 15 years and 9 months in prison. The Petitioner has not assailed the acquittal of the remaining accused persons but has instead only assailed the order of the State of Bihar to grant remission to the answering respondent”, he said.

Mohan said that though the convict cannot claim benefit of remission as a matter of right, he can claim a right that his case be considered.

“The decision thereafter whether remissions will be granted or not is left to the discretion of the authorities, which discretion must be exercised in a manner known to law”, he said.

The former member of Parliament said the present petition challenges an amendment to the Bihar Prison Manual which is an act done purely by the state in exercise of its executive power.

“Even otherwise, the amendment is just and reasonable since it removes a blatant arbitrariness. Thus, as no fundamental right of the petitioner has been infringed and therefore writ petition is not maintainable”, he said.

Mohan said that the grant of remission to the convict does not deprive the victim of any of her fundamental rights and only confers an additional benefit upon the convict.

“In the absence of a breach or violation, the present writ should not be maintainable”, he said.

On May 8, the top court had sought a response from Mohan and the Bihar government on the plea filed by the wife of the slain officer.

Mohan was released from the Saharsa jail on April 27 following an amendment to Bihar’s prison rules.

The petitioner has contended that life imprisonment awarded to the gangster-turned-politician meant incarceration for his entire natural course of life and it cannot be mechanically interpreted to last just 14 years.

“Life imprisonment, when awarded as a substitute for death penalty, has to be carried out strictly as directed by the court and would be beyond application of remission,” she has said in her petition.

Mohan’s name figured in a list of more than 20 prisoners who were ordered to be set free by a notification issued by the state’s law department earlier this year as they had spent more than 14 years behind the bars.

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The remission of his sentence followed an April 10 amendment to the Bihar Prison Manual by the Nitish Kumar government whereby the restriction on early release of those involved in killing of a public servant on duty was done away with.

This, the critics of the state government’s decision claim, was done to facilitate the release of Mohan, a Rajput strongman, who could add heft to the grand alliance led by Nitish Kumar in its fight against the BJP. Several others, including politicians, benefited from the amendment to the state prison rules.

Krishnaiah, who hailed from Mahbubnagar in present-day Telangana, was beaten to death by a mob in 1994 when his vehicle tried to overtake the funeral procession of gangster Chhotan Shukla in Muzaffarpur district.

Mohan, then an MLA, was leading the procession. 

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