Rejection of remission plea despite SRB’s recommendation for premature release undesirable : SC to Odisha Govt

The Supreme Court Friday termed as “extremely undesirable state of affairs” the Odisha government’s action of rejecting the remission plea of a convict, serving life term in a case of kidnapping for ransom, despite the sentence review board (SRB) recommending his premature release.

The apex court noted the state government rejected the remission plea without recording any reasons.

“We have impressed upon the Solicitor General (Tushar Mehta), who appears for the state government, that this is an extremely undesirable state of affairs. It is not an appreciation of the law laid down on the issue. There must be some special reasons why despite the recommendation of the state sentence review board, recommendation was not accepted. It cannot be ipse dixit (an assertion made by an individual based solely on their own authority, without any supporting evidence or proof) of the officer examining the file ,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said.

The bench noted that the issue was re-examined by the authorities and remission granted to the convict.

Mehta told the court he has advised the state government that there must be a proper process or standard operating procedure (SOP) for the exercise.

The bench directed that the SOP be brought in place within a maximum period of four weeks so such cases are not repeated in future.

Justice Kaul pointed out that this has happened in more than one case and the court’s time has been wasted.

The bench also warned the officer concerned of ordering an inquiry against him.

“I would have directed an inquiry against you, the way you conducted. This is not fair. Please do your job,” Justice Kaul said.

The top court was dealing with a plea by convict Rajan Mishra, who was held guilty by a trial court of the charge of kidnapping for ransom in September 2007 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The convict, in his plea filed through advocate Anilendra Pandey, challenged the “non-speaking” remission rejection order of May 24 which was passed by the state authorities. A non-speaking order is an order which does not mention the reason for arriving a particular decision.

The plea said the state authorities ignored the recommendation of the sentence review board which had in January this year recommended Mishra’s premature release on the ground that he has spent more than 20 years of incarceration including remission.

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In November last year, the apex court had directed the state government to consider his case in accordance with the norms within three months.

Mishra had contended he was under detention for 20 years, and in case the detention period was more than 20 years including remission, a person is entitled for the relief unless he falls within the exceptions. He said his case did not fall within any category of exceptions.

On the other hand, the state’s counsel had submitted his case lay within the exception clause of the guidelines as he was an alleged gangster. However, nothing was placed before the court to substantiate the contention.

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