SC: Premature Release of Prisoner Shall Not Depend on Heinousness of Crime

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On 5th August, 2020, a division bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman and Hon’ble Justice Navin Sinha heard the case of Shor v Union of India. The judges have interpreted section 2 of the United Provinces Prisoners Release on Probation Act, 1938.

Brief Facts of the Case

The prisoner along with 20 co-accused committed the murder of 11 persons with deadly weapons. As a consequence he underwent an imprisonment of 37 years 01 month and 18 days (including remission). After that, he applied for an early release which was denied by the High Court. The reason stated for the same was that “premature release of this kind of prisoner would send a negative message against the justice system in the society”. Consequently, the appellant filed an appeal regarding the same in the Supreme Court.

Court’s Analysis

The Hon’ble Supreme Court opined that as per section 2 of the United Provinces Prisoners Release on Probation Act, 1938 the state government has to check 3 conditions for the release of any prisoner. The conditions include (i) antecedents, (ii) conduct in prison and (iii) the person if released is likely to abstain from crime and lead a peaceful life. 

In the present case, the government of UP has erred in checking the aforementioned conditions and has constantly relied on the fact that the crime committed by the prisoner was heinous. Further, the conduct in prison has not been taken into consideration. Moreover, the Superintendent of Police and District Magistrate confirmed that the prisoner is not “incapacitated” from committing the crime. Thus, the government of UP has passed this order of not releasing the prisoner mechanically without application of mind to section 2 of the UP Act.

Court’s Judgment

The Court sets aside the aforesaid order and set the prisoners free owing to the long incarceration of 29 years (without remission).


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