Read Judgment: Sharafat Ali vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Another 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 21, 2022: While observing that the application for premature release has to be considered on the basis of the policy as it stood on the date when the accused was convicted of the offence, the Supreme Court has set aside the order passed by the Government of Uttar Pradesh rejecting the application for premature release of a convict.  

A Larger Bench of Justice Dr. D.Y Chandrachud, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath therefore directed the State Government to reconsider the application of Sharafat Ali (Petitioner) for premature release, on the basis of the policy as it stood on January 17,2005 when the petitioner was convicted of an offence u/s 302 r/w/s 34 of the IPC.

Going by the background of the case, the petitioner was convicted for an offence punishable u/s 302 r/w/s 34 of IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judgment of the trial Judge was affirmed in appeal by the High Court of Allahabad and the SLP was also dismissed. The petitioner had undergone 17 years, 9 months and 26 days of imprisonment and submitted an application for premature release, which was rejected, observing that the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police Amethi had in their report stated that if the petitioner is released prematurely, the possibility that this may cause resentment among the side of the victim cannot be ruled out nor can the possibility of an offence being committed again by the petitioner be excluded. Hence, present petition. 

The Apex Court therefore allowed the petition and directed that the application shall be considered by the government afresh without the petitioner being required to file any fresh application for premature release.

After considering the submissions, the Top Court noted that the order which has been passed by the State government in the present case is bereft of an application of mind to relevant circumstances bearing on whether the petitioner should be released prematurely. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Chandrachud found that such order contains general observations to the effect that the release may result in resentment on the side of the victim, but this is a general consideration which would govern virtually all criminal offences where a person stands convicted of a serious offence, as in the present case u/s 302 r/w/s 34 of the IPC. 

The order does not contain any reference whatsoever to whether the petitioner possesses any prior criminal history, save and except for the present case, and similarly, the order is completely silent on the conduct and behavior of the petitioner in jail and after he was convicted of the offence, added the Bench. 

Justice Chandrachud further noted that relevant considerations bearing upon whether the release of the petitioner would pose a danger to society have not been adverted to and the order which has been passed rejecting the application of the petitioner for premature release suffers from a patent non-application of mind.

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