New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed state governments to exercise its powers of remission to release life convicts with a rider that this will not apply to cases probed by central agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation and for those incarcerated under central laws such as TADA.
Lifting its stay imposed over a year back, the apex court said relaxation would also not apply where the convict has been awarded life term in sexual offence cases of rape and murder.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu, made it clear that "this interim order" would not be applicable in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in which the Centre's plea against the Tamil Nadu government's decision to grant remission for release of the seven life convicts is under consideration.
"We make it clear that our order is not applicable in this case (Rajiv Gandhi assassination case). Our interim order is subject to the final order we pass in the matter," the Bench, also comprising Justices FMI Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit said.
The apex court modified its July 9, 2014 order by which it had restrained all states from exercising power of remission for releasing life convicts from jail in the wake of the controversy triggered by the Tamil Nadu government decision to grant remission for release of three such convicts, V Sriharan alias Murugan, Santhan and Arivu -- whose death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi case was commuted to life term by it on February 18, 2014.
The apex court had on February 20, 2014 stayed the Tamil Nadu government's February 19 decision to release them along with four other convicts Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran saying there were procedural lapses on the part of the state.
The restoration of the states' power of remission under sections 432, 433 of CrPC to release life convicts may be used for considering relief for those life convicts who have undergone prison term of 14 or more years.
While specifying the conditions, the Bench said such power cannot be exercised in cases in which prison terms are specified to continue till the end of the lives.
Further, the Constitution Bench said remission cannot be considered in cases where it is clearly stated that a life convict has to serve in jail for a specified period like 20 to 25 years.
It also made it clear that state's power of remission can be exercised in cases where investigation was not conducted by any central probe agency like CBI.