Critical omissions in Sentence Review Board’s consideration; Calcutta High Court directs to reconsider remission plea of man incarcerated for 23 years

calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: While deciding a remission application of the petitioner who is in incarceration for about 23 years, a single bench comprising of Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya*, J., remanded the remission application back to the State Sentence Review Board for a fresh consideration in compliance with the law, relevant guidelines, and precedents.

Brief Facts

In the instant matter, petitioner 1 who has been in imprisonment for approximately 23 years seeks for remission which is denied by the respondent authorities on the grounds that the rejection lacked proper consideration of relevant criteria.

Parties' Submissions

The petitioner contended that the concerned District Judge, who should have been a part of the State Sentence Review Board, was absent during the consideration and rejection of petitioner 1’s remission application, on the other hand, the respondent authorities argued that since the last rejection occurred in 2022, the petitioner must file a fresh application for remission to be considered.

Court's Observation

The Court observed that the impugned order of rejection was based on a brief and cryptic note by the State Sentence Review Board, which mentioned the remarks such as crime committed by the petitioner 1, local objections, and concerns about future rehabilitation.

While referring to the Guidelines on premature release formulated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), The Court observed that various considerations were not properly considered by the State Sentence Review Board such as the petitioner’s behavior during incarceration, probation leave, and potential risks of recidivism and negative impact on the neighbourhood.

“Tests, such as the conduct and behaviour of the prisoner in jail during the period of incarceration, his behaviour/conduct during the period he was released on probation leave, change in his behavioural pattern during his incarceration, the potential of the petitioner to commit similar crime again and/or to create conditions which might be detrimental to the people of his neighbourhood, have not been considered in detail in the said Review Board's meeting.”

The Court observed that the composition of the Board violated the NHRC Guidelines, as the concerned District Judge was not part of the Board; therefore, the matter is remanded back to the State Sentence Review Board for proper reconsideration, adhering to all relevant criteria and guidelines. The Court further observed that a fresh application from petitioner 1 is not required.

Court's Verdict

While remanding the matter back to the State Sentence Review Board, the Court directed the respondent authorities to promptly constitute a proper State Sentence Review Board and conduct the reconsideration within three months from the date of the order and any other pending remission applications should also be placed before the Board expeditiously, preferably within one month.

[Biresh Poddar v. State of W.B., TN, 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 2196, order dated 28-07-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Mr. Gunjan @ Kanishk Sinha, Counsel for the Petitioners

Mr. Biswabrata Basu Mallick, Mr. Sanjib Das, Mr. Madhusudan Mukhopadhyay, Mr. Biman Halder, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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