Read Order: Paramjit Singh Saholi v. State of Haryana and others

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 13, 2022: While dealing with a Writ Petition seeking quashing of the order releasing Gurmit Ram Rahim on furlough for 21 days, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Amendment Act 2013 only mentions murder simpliciter under Section 302 IPC and thus a person charged under Section 120-B read with Section 302 IPC will not fall within the scope of the Statute in order to infer his inclusion under the definition of ‘hardcore prisoner’.

The Bench of Justice Raj Mohan Singh held, “Had the intention of legislature been to include aiding offence under Section 120-B IPC for the purpose of defining hardcore prisoner, the language of Amendment Act of 2013 would have been different altogether. It has been excluded in the definition clause of hardcore prisoner. Cases of Section 120-B IPC are consciously excluded and the Legislature was very much alive to the situation, in which Section 120-B IPC has been excluded.”

Further, it was also expounded, “Sub Section 8 of Section 2(aa)(i) of the Act used for serial killing i.e. murder under Section 302 IPC in two or more cases in different FIRs would make it clear that except Section 302 IPC, no other section has been given any place, nor has the same been discussed by the Legislature in its sub section.”

The petitioner preferred a writ petition seeking quashing of the order, vide which Gurmit Ram Rahim was ordered to be released on furlough by the respondent-State, especially during when Assembly Elections in Punjab which were scheduled for February 20, 2022.

Gurmit Ram Rahim filed an application for grant of parole for 42 days vide application filed in January 2022. Eventually, the opinion of the office of Advocate General, Haryana on whether Gurmit Ram Rahim fell under the category of a hardcore prisoner as per Section 2(aa)(i)(8) of the Act of 2013, and was thus entitled to parole in view of his involvement in a number of cases, was sought. 

The Office of Advocate General Haryana stated in its opinion to the State Government that in order to cover a prisoner under the definition of ‘hardcore prisoner’ (under Section 2(aa) of 2013 Act), it is necessary that he must have participated in the actual commission of the substantive offence of murder under Section 302 IPC and the aiding offence of criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B read with Section 302 IPC will not be covered under the category of ‘hardcore prisoner’.

It was thus opined that the prison authorities may consider the representation of Gurmit Ram Rahim for the grant of parole on the grounds mentioned therein as per norms. This opinion was eventually forwarded to the concerned authority of the Jail. By that time, Gurmit Ram Rahim had completed 6 years, 1 month and 20 days of sentence including remissions and therefore on January 31, 2022, Gurmit Ram Rahim filed an application to Superintendent District Jail, Rohtak for grant of three weeks furlough to meet his family members. 

In view of the opinion furnished by the office of Advocate General, Haryana, the Superintendent, District Jail, Rohtak initiated the process and sent the same to the concerned authority i.e. District Magistrate, Gurugram and Commissioner Rohtak Division, Rohtak for consideration as per provision of Section 4 of Haryana Good Conduct Prisoner (Temporary Release) Act, 1988.  Commissioner, Rohtak Division, Rohtak vide order granted 21 days furlough to the convict. He was directed to report back on February 28, 2022.

The Court opined at the very outset that Section 2(aa)(i)(8) of the Act of 2013 would show that Section 120-B IPC is not included in Section 2(aa)(i)(8) of the Act as amended till date. Further, it added that furlough is granted in long term imprisonment only i.e. in cases where the sentence is not less than 4 years. The first furlough exceeds to 21 days and thereafter, a maximum of 14 days and it can be granted only once in a year and the same is intended to break the monotony of imprisonment and no specific reasons to be given for grant of furlough. 

In the instant case, the main thrust of the petitioner was that Gurmit Ram Rahim being convicted in rape case qua prosecutrix-A and prosecutrix-B is undergoing a sentence of 10 years each consecutively. He is also involved in two more murder cases and therefore, he falls under the category of a hardcore prisoner. On the other hand, the State Counsel, on the strength of definition as amended by the Act 2013 submitted that Gurmit Ram Rahim is not convicted of a substantive offence under Section 302 IPC, rather he was sentenced with the aid of Section 120-B IPC and his case did not fall in any of the subsections of Section 2(aa) of the Act of 2013. 

It was also argued that Serial killing i.e. murder under Section 302 IPC in two or more cases in different FIRs would not be attracted as the conspirator is not directly involved under Section 302 IPC, rather he has been sentenced for life with the aid of Section 120-B IPC. The Counsel submitted that sentence of life imprisonment in two murder cases would start only after the expiry of his first sentence awarded in the rape case i.e. 10 years imprisonment for committing offence qua prosecutrix-A and prosecutrix-B and these sentences are to run consecutively in the first case. 

After considering the different facets of the case, the Court observed that the Statute identifies an offence of murder simpliciter and not a conspiracy to murder or abetment thereof. The Court added that had the intention of the legislature been to include aiding offence under Section 120-B IPC for the purpose of defining hardcore prisoner, the language of Amendment Act of 2013 would have been different altogether. As per the Bench, the Cases of Section 120-B IPC were consciously excluded and the Legislature was very much alive to the situation, in which Section 120-B IPC has been excluded.

In this light, the Court made observations of the role of the Court in the interpretation of statutes. It was observed that the words used in an Act cannot be used or interpreted loosely and inappropriately, rather the same is to be given true meaning, and importance and are to be correctly and exactly used. 

Further, elaborating on this reasoning, the Court opined that since the Act of 2013 only mentions murder under Section 302 IPC, it implies that only murder simpliciter under Section 302 IPC and a person charged under Section 120-B read with Section 302 IPC will not fall within the scope of the Statute in order to infer his inclusion under the definition of the hardcore prisoner. 

“Evidently, the Legislature in terms of Section 2(aa) of the Amendment Act, 2013 has nowhere discussed even slightly, remotely or combinedly Section 120-B IPC or offence of criminal conspiracy in the whole Statute”, asserted the Court. 

The Court also highlighted that the words used in this definition clause is ‘serial killing’ or ‘contract killing’ and this usage makes it more clear that the persons who are actually real culprits committing murder should be put under the category of hardcore prisoner. 

Evidently, the Court held, the intention of the Legislature would be to restrain those convicts from release who after coming out or on release, may again indulge in crimes like serial killing or in a contract killing in order to satisfy their psyche. The import or construction of sections that are not part of Statute by way of little interpretation would be contrary to the provision of Statute and thus unconditionally, the same would defeat the purpose of Statute itself.

Also, reflecting light on the settled legal position to the effect that out of two possible and reasonable constructions, the one which exempts the accused from penalty should be taken, the Court held, 

“It is also a settled proposition that if two possible and reasonable constructions can be put upon a penal provision, the Court must lean towards the construction, which exempts the subject from a penalty, rather than the one which imposed penalty… It will not be lawful to proceed upon the assumption that the Legislature has made a mistake. The Legislature intended what it said. Even in case of some defect in the phraseology used by the Legislature, the Court cannot aid the Legislature’s defective phrasing or add and amend or by construction make up the deficiency unless and until a challenge is laid to the vires of such enactment.”

Lastly, the Court observed that since Gurmit Ram Rahim was granted furlough for 21 days and he already completed the same and returned to the jail premises, therefore, at this stage, more or less, the writ petition became infructuous. The interpretation imported to Section 2(aa) of the Act of 2013 by the State was found by the Court to be plausible. 
“Since the petitioner has not laid any such ground of applicability of subsequent sentences during the currency of sentences under a rape case, therefore, it would be appropriate for the State to consider all pros and cons arising out of all the convictions for the purpose of further furlough/parole, if any, in accordance with law”, held the Court.

0 CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment