Delhi HC orders fresh consideration of plea of 4 petitioners seeking premature release after Sentence Review Board fails to consider factors enumerated in 2004 policy
Justice Vikas Mahajan [07-06-2024]


Read Order:KULDEEP & ORS v. STATE OF NCT OF DELHI [DEL HC- W.P.(CRL) 3840/2023]


Tulip Kanth


New Delhi, June 11, 2024: While reaffirming that the exercise of administrative power will be regarded manifestly erroneous if it has been exercised on the non-application of mind to the relevant factors, the Delhi High Court has allowed the plea of four convict-petitioners seeking premature release.


The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan was considering a petition filed by four petitioners namely, Kuldeep, Mazhar-Ul-Islam, Rama Shankar and Mukesh Kumar under Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 CrPC seeking premature release by challenging the respective order passed by the Sentence Review Board (SRB) vide which the applications of the petitioners seeking premature release was rejected.


The petitioners were convicted and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment for different offences. Appeals against conviction and sentence had been dismissed by the High Court. All the petitioners had been granted furlough by the competent authority and while on furlough, they approached the Supreme Court by filing a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, which were dismissed and the petitioners were granted liberty to approach the jurisdictional High Court. 


It was the case of the petitioners that they are first time offenders and were never involved in any case of any nature except the present case. It was further submitted that the conduct of the petitioners has been satisfactory and that they have never misused or abused the grant of parole/furlough maintaining excellent conduct during incarceration. It was further urged that the petitioners being ideal convicts fulfilled all objective criteria enumerated by the Sentence Review Board (SRB) as laid down under the order of 2004, as well as, the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.


The Bench noticed that while rejecting the premature release of the petitioner the SRB had only considered the manner in which the crime was committed, the gravity of the offence, and the perversity of the crime. However, the SRB had to consider other relevant factors as enumerated in Para 3.1 of the policy dated 16.07.2004 and Rule 1251 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 apart from considering the circumstances in which the crime was committed. Under the policy of 2004, three factors which were required to be considered while taking a decision on the petitioner’s application for premature release are as under:

  • Whether the convict has lost his potential for committing crime considering his overall conduct in jail during the 14 year incarceration;
  • The possibility of reclaiming the convict as a useful member of the society;
  • Socio-economic condition of the convict’s family.


Noting that there was no discussion of such aspects in the impugned order, the Bench held, “It is settled law that if the administrative power has been exercised on the nonconsideration or non-application of mind to the relevant factors, the exercise of power will be regarded manifestly erroneous. (Madhya Pradesh Special Police Establishment vs. State of Madhya Pradesh) [LQ/SC/2004/1283] This being the position, the impugned order cannot be sustained.”


The Bench also rejected the prayer of the petitioners seeking exemption from surrendering till the time the next SRB considered their case afresh in view of the judgment in Rani @ Manju v. State (Govt.) of NCT of Delhi, wherein it has been held that the Court has no competence to issue a direction contrary to law and to act in contravention of a statutory provision and granting exemption to the petitioners from surrendering shall be in violation to the Rules. 


Thus, allowing the petition, the Bench asked the respondents to consider afresh the case of the petitioner for premature release, in terms of the policy dated 16.07.2004 or in terms of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 whichever is beneficial to the petitioners, within a period of eight weeks. However, the Court granted the petitioners two weeks’ time to surrender before the concerned Jail Superintendent.

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