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Satish @ Sabbe vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh - (Supreme Court) (30 Sep 2020)

Once a law has been made by the appropriate legislature, then it is not open for executive authorities to surreptitiously subvert its mandate



Present petitions, have been filed seeking special leave to appeal against a common order of the High Court through which their appeal against conviction under Section 364¬A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and consequential sentence of life imprisonment, was turned down. Issue in present case was relating to prayers of Petitioners for premature release.

Society has a right to lead a peaceful and fearless life, without free¬-roaming criminals creating havoc in the lives of ordinary peace-¬loving citizens. But equally strong is the foundation of reformative theory, which propounds that, a civilised society cannot be achieved only through punitive attitudes and vindictiveness; and that instead public harmony, brotherhood and mutual acceptability ought to be fostered. Thus, first¬-time offenders ought to be liberally accorded a chance to repent their past and look¬ forward to a bright future.

The Constitution of India, 1950 through Articles 72 and 161, embody these reformative principles by allowing the President of India and the Governor of a State to suspend, remit or commute sentences of convicts. Further, Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) streamlines such powers by laying down procedure and pre-¬conditions for release. The only embargo under Section 433¬A of CrPC is against the release of persons sentenced to life imprisonment till they have served at least fourteen years of their actual sentence. The UP Prisoners Release on Probation Act, 1938 also lays down the principles upon which such decisions to release on probation are required to be taken.

It is no doubt trite law that, no convict can claim remission as a matter of right. However, in the present case, the circumstances are different. What had been sought and directed by present Court through repeated orders was not premature release itself, but due application of mind and a reasoned decision by executive authorities in terms of existing provisions regarding premature release. Once a law has been made by the appropriate legislature, then it is not open for executive authorities to surreptitiously subvert its mandate.

In the present case, considering how the Petitioners have served nearly two decades of incarceration and have thus suffered the consequences of their actions; a balance between individual and societal welfare can be struck by granting the Petitioners conditional premature release, subject to their continuing good conduct. This would both ensure that, liberty of the Petitioners is not curtailed, nor that there is any increased threat to society. This order is not irreversible and can always be recalled in the event of any future misconduct or breach by the petitioners.

The Special Leave Petitions are disposed of with a direction that, the Petitioners be released on probation in terms of Section 2 of the Probation Act, 1938 within a period of two weeks. The Respondent¬ State shall be at liberty to impose conditions as it may deem fit to balance public safety with individual liberty.


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