Read Order: Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab and Others
Chandigarh, February 9, 2022: While dealing with a challenge to an Order, denying temporary release of the petitioner-accused, on grounds of danger to the security of the state, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the resultant danger to the security of State or prejudice to the maintenance of public disorder must bear a direct connection to the act of temporary release of a convict. This should not be a remote outshoot of the release and should certainly not be based upon hypothetical existence of facts and conclusions drawn on conjectures.
The Bench of Justice Tejinder Singh Dhindsa and Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj added, “Such a construction of hypothesis, if allowed, is likely to be extended and applied to every case- thus defeating the statutory objective.”
Further, terming the lower court order as one based on an assumption of facts and conjectures, the Bench opined that an order must be founded on facts as they exist and not on hypothesis.
The instant petition raised a challenge to the order of the District Magistrate, Sangrur, whereby application of the petitioner for temporary release under the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act 1962, was dismissed with the lower Court saying that drug addicts can commit any crime to fulfil their craving of drugs, because of which there can be a danger to the life, liberty of the other people and to the security of the State.
Therefore, the order was assailed as having been passed mechanically without pointing out how the grant of parole to the petitioner could be a danger to the security of the State or public order.
After having considered the provisions of Section 3 of the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 1962 and Rule 3 of the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Rules 1963, the Court observed that under the statutory provisions, the competent authority may pass an order directing the temporary release of a prisoner.
As per the procedure prescribed, the District Magistrate has to verify facts and grounds on which such temporary release was requested. Further, the Court noted that in the event, the District Magistrate opposes the temporary release of a prisoner, the grounds prescribed must make out that the prisoner’s presence is dangerous to the security of State or is prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.
After perusing the impugned order, the Court was of the opinion that the respondent authority failed to point out the existence of any of the twin aspects, as might justify the opposition by the District Magistrate to the grant of temporary release to a convict.
Further, showing its disagreement with the view taken by the lower court, the Court observed that there was no valid basis in the order passed by the Additional District Magistrate for concluding that the temporary release of the petitioner would cause public disorder and that such an approach to determine the right of a convict for consideration under the Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act 1962 defeats the very statutory object.
Additionally, the Court made pertinent observations on the object of temporary release by stating that temporary release is a concession extended by State upon a convict displaying good conduct and this concession aims to instil a purpose for a convict to reform and reward reformatory conduct.
“Temporary release only helps to determine whether the convict has reformed or not. Ministerial denial of such consideration leaves no motivation for improvement. Such mechanical determination is thus contrary to statute and should not subsist”, asserted the Bench.
Also, the Court referred to the judgment of the Apex Court in Banka Sneha Sheela v. State of Telangana, 2021 Vol. 9 SCC 415 wherein it was held that mere contravention of law though may affect ‘law and order’ but cannot be termed as public disorder and that the act in question must penetrate the community in a manner as would have a severe impact on the community or public at large before it can be termed as a public disorder.
In the end, the Court reached the conclusion that the impugned order suffered from non-consideration of the statutory provisions contained in the Act of 1962 and the Rules framed thereunder and was passed in a mechanical manner and on conjectures and surmises.
Thus, the Lower Court’s order which had been challenged was set aside.