In a recent development, the Supreme Court has directed the Gujarat government to elucidate the prolonged duration it takes to decide applications submitted by prisoners seeking remission. Additionally, the Court has demanded the state to furnish information regarding the number of petitions awaiting consideration in both High Courts and the Supreme Court, all seeking premature release.
A bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal delved into the matter while hearing a writ petition filed by a prisoner who sought the court’s intervention in the assessment of his remission application. The Court had previously chastised the state for failing to decide on the remission application, despite a prior judicial order.
Responding to the Court’s rebuke, the state, on September 15, 2023, issued an order granting permanent remission to the petitioner. However, this remission came with four specified conditions. The Court, in response, raised concerns over the legality of imposing such conditions. Notably, one condition stipulated that the remission could be subject to revocation.
In the official order, the Court expressed a prima facie view, stating, “Prima facie, we find that condition Nos.1 to 3 could not have been imposed after coming to the conclusion that this was a fit case to exercise power of the State Government under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Apart from the question of the authority of the State to impose such conditions, another important question is whether the grant of remission can be conditional which is open to revocation, as provided in the second condition.”
The Court has directed the state to provide clarifications on the lawfulness of imposing such conditions and whether the state’s policy allows for the inclusion of such conditions. Furthermore, the Court emphasized that the state should elucidate the usual timeframe taken to consider cases for the grant of permanent remission and whether specific timelines have been set for deciding on such requests. The state is also expected to disclose the number of writ petitions pending in constitutional courts, highlighting grievances about the non-consideration of prayers for remission.
This development underscores the judiciary’s scrutiny of the state’s handling of remission applications, emphasizing the importance of transparency and adherence to legal processes.