It’s not new that governments take political decisions to free criminals convicted for heinous crimes
The very rationale for a legal delivery system and rule of law is that people who have been wronged could display a skewed sense of justice which can be retributive in nature. Representing all stakeholders, the state, on the other hand, will be able to take a balanced approach after considering both the aggravating and mitigating factors. It is imperative that the state plays a fair game while balancing the priorities and taking decisions.
Hence the sight of former Member of Parliament Anand Mohan, convicted for the murder of a district magistrate in Bihar and walking out of jail after serving a period of 16 years, is disturbing for a lot of people. He was convicted for the murder of a district magistrate while leading a protest against the killing of a worker of his party in 1996 for which he was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007. The high court later commuted the noose to life imprisonment. The Bihar government last month amended the prison manual, excising the clause “murder of a public servant on duty” from the list of cases for which it could not consider remission of jail term. It also said all those who have served a period of 20 years with remission and 14 years without remissions will be considered for the benefit. The two actions clearly benefited Anand Mohan, forcing the officer’s wife to move the Supreme Court seeking a cancellation of the remission.
It’s not new that governments take political decisions to free criminals convicted for heinous crimes. It was not long ago the Gujarat government released 11 persons convicted for gangrape and mass murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots saying they completed 14 years in jail and their “behaviour was found to be good”.
The state governments have a bona fide right to commute sentences and order early release of prisoners. But it would put the very idea of law and order on its head if the government decides applications of remission based on their political or religious affiliations. There must be a foolproof transparent system to decide the cases on their merit without being interfered by the political class.