Bombay High Court: In a petition filed by two convicts (‘petitioners’) challenging an order dated 09-07-2021 passed by Home Department, Government of Maharashtra directing their release after completion of 24 years of imprisonment including remission, as there are two different categories of crimes based on which remission is granted and their case seems to fall in a category having lesser year of imprisonment than 24 years as granted vide the impugned order, a Division Bench of Revati Mohite Dere and Madhav J Jamdar, JJ. held that even if it is assumed that the petitioners’ case falls under both the categories namely category no. 4 (c) and category no. 4 (d) of Guidelines dated 15-03-2010 (‘2010 Guidelines’), then also, the more beneficial category i.e., category no. 4 (c) will apply to the Petitioners’ case.
The petitioner claimed that the incident in question has taken place on account of a rivalry between two trade unions namely Mumbai Labour Union and Bhartiya Kamgar Sena. The deceased was a member of the Mumbai Labour Union, whereas, both, the Petitioners belonged to the Bhartiya Kamgar Sena. Petitioners i.e., Uday Dhaku Sutar and Ranjay Laxman Sawant (Accused 1 and 3) alongwith Prakash Yeragi (Accused 2), thus, were convicted for the offences punishable under Section 302 read with 34 of Penal Code, 1860 and were sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for life.
Counsel for petitioners submitted that category 4 (c) of Guidelines dated 15th March, 2010 applies to the present case, whereas, the contention of the State is that category 4 (d) of said 2010 Guidelines is applicable.
Category 4 (c) covers Murder resulting from trade union activities and business rivalry mentioning 22 years as the period of imprisonment to be undergone including remission subject to a minimum of 14 years of actual imprisonment including set off period whereas Category 4 (d) covers murder committed by more than 1 person and mentions 22 years as the said period.
The Court noted that in the present case, murder has been committed by three persons, however, Guideline no. 4 (c) specifically contemplates murder resulting from trade union activities and does not further prescribe that the same will apply only if a murder has been committed by one person. What is relevant is murder should have been committed as a result of trade union activities and therefore, whether murder has been committed by more than one person/group of persons is totally irrelevant.
Placing reliance on State of Haryana v. Jagdish, (2010) 4 SCC 216, wherein the Court observed that “In case a liberal policy prevails on the date of consideration of the case of a “lifer” for premature release, he should be given benefit thereof.”
The Court remarked that it has been held by Supreme Court that in case of convicts the policy which was prevalent when the conviction takes place will apply and if any other liberal policy prevails on the date of consideration of case for premature release, then such policy will apply. The said principle of giving benefit to the convict of beneficial policy certainly applies to the two different policies/guidelines but the same will also apply to the categories in the same policy/guidelines, if case falls under both the categories.
Thus, the Court held that the present case is squarely governed by Guideline no. 4 (c) of Guidelines 2010, as the murder took place as a result of trade union activities and thereby quashed the impugned order.
[Uday Dhaku Sutar v. The State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 2839, decided on 08-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Mr. Rupesh Jaiswal, Advocate, for the Petitioner in both the Writ Petitions;
Mr. J. P. Yagnik, APP, Advocate, for the Respondent-State in Writ Petition No. 4544 of 2021;
Ms. M. H. Mhatre, APP, Advocate, for the Respondent-State in Writ Petition No. 4545 of 2021.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.