The Supreme Court on Friday questioned the Bihar government as to how many of the convicts, granted remission in April this year along with former Lok Sabha MP Anand Mohan, were held guilty of murdering public servants on duty.
The Bihar government informed the top court that a total of 97 convicts, including Mohan, who was serving life term in the 1994 murder case of then Gopalganj District Magistrate G Krishnaiah, were prematurely released at the same time.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta posted the plea filed by the wife of the slain IAS officer challenging the remission granted to Mohan for final hearing on September 26.
The top court allowed senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Bihar government, to file an additional affidavit giving the details of the released convicts who were held guilty of killing a public servant.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Uma Krishnaiah, the wife of the slain officer, requested that the state be asked to serve upon them the original records of remission granted to Mohan so they can prepare their response.
Kumar objected to the request and said if Luthra’s client wanted original records of remission, she can file an application under the Right to Information Act.
“There was no wrongdoing. Total of 97 persons including Mohan were released at the same time,” Kumar said.
Justice Datta asked whether all these 97 people, who were granted remission, had been convicted of murdering a public servant and, if not, how many were guilty of such an offence.
Kumar said he does not have such data and needed further instruction on the details of all the convicts who were granted remission and released prematurely.
The bench said the petitioner’s case is that the remission policy was changed to benefit Mohan.
“You (Kumar) furnish the details about the persons who were convicted for the murder of public servants and were granted remission,” Justice Datta said.
On May 19, the top court had directed the Bihar government to produce complete original records with regard to the remission granted to Mohan, a gangster-turned-politician.
It had told the counsel appearing for the Bihar government that no further adjournment will be granted in the case, and directed him to place the complete records for perusal by the court.
Luthra had argued the state government changed the policy retrospectively and released Mohan.
Mohan was released from Saharsa jail on April 24 after serving 14 years following an amendment to the Bihar prison rules by the state government.
The petitioner has contended the life imprisonment awarded to Mohan 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.
Anand Mohan was awarded death penalty on October 5, 2007 by the trial court which was commuted to rigorous life imprisonment by the Patna High Court on December 10, 2008 and confirmed by the Supreme Court on July 10, 2012.
The remission of Mohan’s 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 the 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 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, and was alleged to have instigated the mob to kill Krishnaiah.