The Supreme Court Thursday said the modalities to be prescribed for ensuring timely consideration of cases for premature release of eligible convicts in Uttar Pradesh should be fine-tuned and a meeting of the secretary of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), the Director General of Prisons and other related officials be convened for this purpose.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said an updated note, based on discussions in the meeting, shall be placed before the court so that a comprehensive order can be passed in the matter.
The apex court had on February 6 directed officials of the legal services authority in Uttar Pradesh to collate information from district and state prisons on convicts who have become eligible for premature release and asked the state government to “strictly” abide by the relevant provisions.
During the hearing on Thursday, the counsel appearing for NALSA referred to a note for discussion that was circulated in the court.
“After hearing the counsel, we are of the view that the modalities to be prescribed for ensuring the timely consideration of cases for premature release should be fine tuned. For this purpose, a meeting should be convened during the course of the ensuing week between the Secretary to the NALSA, counsel appearing in this case, the Director General of Prisons and the Principal Secretary (Prisons) of the State of Uttar Pradesh,” said the bench, also comprising Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala.
The top court has posted the matter for further hearing on May 15.
During the hearing, advocate Gaurav Agrawal, appearing for NALSA, told the bench that pursuant to the apex court’s order, various meetings were held by the member secretary of NALSA and deputy director of the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
He said the member secretary of NALSA had suggested various changes to the e-prison portal which were carried out.
Agrawal said the Director General of Prisons, Uttar Pradesh, may ensure that relevant details of the life convicts in all the prisons of the state are filled up in the online portal and cases of all life convicts eligible for premature release as of April 1, 2023 be identified by the prison superintendent and entered in the software.
The CJI said one more meeting can be held so that the modalities are fine-tuned and the apex court can pass a comprehensive order.
In its February 6 order, the apex court had noted that in September last year the top court had delivered a verdict and issued a slew of directions governing the premature release of those sentenced to life imprisonment consequent upon their conviction under diverse provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
The bench had referred to an affidavit filed by the Director General of Prisons and observed that it sets out district-wise data of convicts eligible for being considered for premature release and the number of cases pending consideration.
“As of December 31, 2022 there are 1,15,163 prisoners in the State of Uttar Pradesh out of whom 88,429 are under trial prisoners. There are 26,734 convicts of whom 16,262 are undergoing a sentence of life imprisonment,” it had noted.
“The affidavit states that 2,228 convicted prisoners have completed 14 years of actual imprisonment (in terms of the Rules of 1938 which were prevalent on the date of the conviction) and are eligible for being considered for premature release,” the apex court had noted in its order.
It had also observed that the affidavit indicated in the preceding five years, 3,729 prisoners were released in Uttar Pradesh under various arrangements for premature release.