The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that state governments cannot release convicts serving a longer sentence after they have served 14 years in prison, considering the serious nature of their crime.
This statement came after a Constitution bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices F M I Kalifulla, P C Ghose, A M Sapre and U U Lalit ruled in a 3-2 majority.
Usually, NGOs and social activists demand the release of criminals after they have served a sentence of 14 years in jail, which is generally considered to be the span of a life term.
The majority judgment, which was authored by Justice Kalifulla, said that the courts have the duty of balancing human rights of convicts with the security of society, which â€śtoday stood endangered by antisocial elements enjoying political patronageâ€ť.
The judgement said, â€śToday we find that criminals are let loose endangering the lives of innocent people in our country. Such hardened criminals are in the good books of several powerful men of ill-gotten wealth and power mongers, for whom they act as paid assassins. Lawlessness is the order of the day. It is the hard reality that the state machinery is not able to protect or guarantee the life and liberty of the common man.â€ť
The court also said that leniency in such cases would lead to chaos and erosion of rule of law upholding the principle laid down by the top court in the Swamy Shradhanand case. In this case, the convictâ€™s death sentence was reduced to life, but authorities were ordered to keep him in jail till death.
The court also questioned the motive of social activists who demand early relief for hardened criminals saying, â€śWe are at a loss to understand for what reason or purpose such propagation is carried on and what benefit the society at large is going to derive.â€ť
The order also noted, â€śIt can be said without any scope of controversy that when by way of a judicial decision, after a detailed analysis, having regard to the proportionality of the crime committed, it is decided that the offender deserves to be punished with the sentence of life imprisonment till the end of his life or for a specific period of 20 years, 30 years or 40 years, such a conclusion should survive without any interruption.â€ť