Sunday, April 29, 2018

No remission yet for 458 convicts in Bengal jails : Soumya Das

The Hindu: Kolkata: Sunday, April 29, 2018.
There are 458 life convicts who have completed 14 years of imprisonment in several correctional homes in West Bengal, and as per existing laws, the State government should initiate the process of considering their release, the reply to the RTI query had revealed on August 17, 2017. The State government, however, is far from granting remission to any of these life convicts, despite the Calcutta High Court’s order to complete the process by May 2, 2018.
The RTI query was filed by Pradeep Singh Thakur, State secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML-Red Star). The highest number of such convicts are lodged in the Lalogola Open Air Correctional Home (89), followed by the Alipore Central Correctional Home (87). The Presidency Central Correctional Home and the Midnapore Central Correctional Home each have 57 such convicts.
“We are yet to decide on the remission of the [sentence of 458] life term convicts in the State as the verification reports [from the police] about such convicts are yet to arrive,” Ujjal Biswas, the West Bengal Minister for the Department of Correctional Administration told The Hindu. “So far, we have sent about 250 of these life term convicts to open jails,” he added.
Mr. Biswas pointed out that the Calcutta High Court, in its judgement on November 2, 2017, referred to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court for such remission.
‘Case by case’
The HC order, delivered by the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee, had stated, “We direct the respondent authorities to undertake the exercise of considering case by case as to whether the life of convicts, who are presently in correctional homes, can be released upon remission of their punishment, following the guidelines laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the aforesaid case.”
The Supreme Court, in the related judgement, had stated that while granting remission, the concerned government has to “consider not only the gravity of the crime but also other circumstances, including whether the prisoner has now been de-sensitised and is ready to be assimilated in the society.”