Guidelines for release of prisoners

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Bengaluru: A prisoner, who has been convicted for life for heinous crime against women or children, may not be entitled to either remission of his life sentence or will be considered for premature release in Karnataka.
The state government is shortly going to come out with a set of guidelines on the premature release of convicts, which will disqualify convicts who are guilty of crime against women and children from getting remission or permission for premature release.
“Besides crimes against women and children, prisoners convicted under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 may not also be entitled for premature release,” said an official source at the state secretariat, who added that the government is seriously mulling on the draft proposal sent by the prison department on the guidelines for premature release of convicts — a rather ticklish issue, which nearly led to a confrontation between the state government and the governor in the recent years.
The governor under Article 161 is vested with the power to grant pardon, to suspend, remit or commute sentences of convicts in certain cases. Barring 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the state, when the­­ ­­­­­­then Kumaraswamy government pardoned 309 convicts on grounds of consistent good behaviour, ill-health and report from the jurisdictional superintendent of police that their release would not harm society, there have been no en masse release of convicts despite repeated efforts by the government.
“The earlier guidelines for premature release of prisoners are not clear. The ones that were framed in 2009 have loopholes and are faulty,” said the officer. In 2010, the prison department had thrice sent a list of 594 convicts to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj after evaluating several parameters, such as good behaviour, health, family issues and the fact that they had served six to 10 years in the prison. But Bhardwaj on all the three occasions returned the files, stating that they should send him details of individual cases, their history along with the copy of the Supreme Court judgment on the remission of life sentence.

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