Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: While deliberating over the instant petition filed by Arun Gawli, who was convicted under MCOCA in 2012, seeking premature release from prison under Remission Policy of 2006 on account of old age and frail health; the Division Bench of Vinay Joshi* and Vrushali V. Joshi, JJ., applying the rule of ejusdem generis, held that convicts under MCOCA cannot be excluded from availing the benefits of 2006 State Remission Policy.

The Court held that former gangster turned politician, Arun Gawli is entitled to the benefits flowing from the Remission Policy dated 10-01-2006, which was prevailing on the date of his conviction.


The petitioner, convicted under the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (“the MCOC Act”), sought premature release from jail under the State Remission Policy (“2006 Policy”) prevalent at the time of his conviction. The premature release sought by him was rejected by the respondent Authorities. The petitioner claimed he complied with all the conditions under the Policy, so the rejection was unjust, arbitrary, and liable to be set aside. The petitioner stated that he has served imprisonment of 14 years, has reached 65 years of age, and has been certified as “weak” by the Medical Board, thereby making him eligible to avail the benefit under the 2006 Policy.

The 2006 Policy provides for early release for those life convicts who have undergone 14 years of actual imprisonment; completed 65 years of age and have been determined as physically weak. However, the Policy had some inbuilt exceptions stating that it would not apply to the convicts of specific enactments. In 2015, the State Remission Policy was revised which excluded its applicability to the convicts under certain Acts including MCOC Act. The petitioner being a convict under MCOC Act, his request for premature release was rejected in terms of the Policy of the year 2015, which has been challenged in the instant case.

The respondents submitted that Clause 3of the 2006 Policy excluded its applicability on the convicts of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Dangerous Persons and Video Pirates Act, 1981 (“MPDA”), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (“TADA”), Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (“NDPS”). It was argued that the word ‘etc’ in the Policy would cover the convicts of MCOC Act as well. It was argued that the provisions of law and the contents of the policy should be construed by keeping in mind the colour and context of the policy.

Applying the rule of ejusdem generis, the respondents contended that the 2006 policy excludes the stringent statutes, thus, MCOC Act being a similar statute, it would also fall in the excluded category in terms of Clause 3 of the 2006 Policy.

Per contra, counsels of the petitioner applying the same rule of ejusdem generis, argued that the convicts of MCOC Act cannot be denied the benefit and that the provisions of law, rules and scheme framed under the Rules, must be construed by applying the rule of beneficial construction.

Analysis and Judgment

The Court began its analysis with understanding the rule of ejusdem generis, by referring to the cases of Parakh Foods Limited v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2008) 4 SCC 584, Jage Ram v. State of Haryana, (1971) 1 SCC 671, Grassim Industries Ltd v. Collector of Customs, Bombay, (2002) 4 SCC 297, wherein this rule was defined as meaning “of the same kind”, or the “words of similar class”, and used as a rule of construction to aid the courts to find out the true legislative intention.

The Court said that the rule of ejusdem generis strives to reconcile incompatibility between specific and general words. To invoke the rule of ejusdem generis, there must be a common thread in between the words.

Upon considering the application of ejusdem generis by the respondents in the contentions, the Court found that field of each statute excluded under 2006 Policy is quite distinct and no common thread or similarity was found by the Court between MCOCA and TADA, NDPS and MPDA. It was pertinently noted that the MCOC Act is a local statute which aims to curb the organised crime, and is also distinct from the afore-stated laws.

The Court further noted that the MCOC Act preceded the 2006 Policy, which meant that the framers of the Policy were aware of this legislation, and it was still excluded. Thus, the Court inferred that MCOC Act was intentionally excluded from clause 3(b) of the 2006 Policy.

It was only in 2015 when the Remission Policy was revised, that the framers specifically excluded convicts under MCOC Act to be eligible for the benefit of premature release. Therefore, the Court pointed out that it cannot be said that the framers of 2006 Policy also had the same intention as the framers of the 2015 Policy.

Therefore, the Court held that Arun Gawli was entitled to the benefits flowing from the remission policy of 2006, which was prevailing on the date of his conviction.. The respondent Authority was directed to pass an order consequential to the judgment within 4 weeks from the date of uploading of the order.

[Arun Gulab Gawli v. State of Maharashtra, 2024 SCC OnLine Bom 1052, decided on: 05-04-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Vinay Joshi

Advocate for the Petitioner: M.N. Ali, Advocate

Advocate for Respondents: M.J. Khan, Additional Public Prosecutor

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