Punjab and Haryana High Court
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Punjab and Haryana High Court: Arvind Singh Sangwan, J., reduced the penalty of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5000 considering old age of the petitioners who stood surety to one Pawan Kumar, a life convict, for releasing him on parole as the life convict failed to surrender before the jail authorities on the stipulated date. The Court observed,

The petitioners were simpleton elderly persons and they did not have adequate means to pay the said penal amount.

Pawan Kumar, son of the petitioners was convicted for life imprisonment. The District Magistrate had released him on three weeks’ parole on surety bonds of Rs 2 Lakh each filed by both the petitioners to ensure that Pawan will surrender back on 24-07-2019, however, he failed to surrender on the said date. Pursuant to which, the DM had imposed the penalty of Rs 2 Lakh each, on the petitioners and further directed that the said amount be recovered as arrears of land revenue.

Being aggrieved, the petitioners preferred an appeal before the Court of Sessions and pleaded that there are not in a position to pay such a heavy penalty as they are having meager source of income. The Additional Sessions Judge, vide order dated 15-12-2020, reduced the penalty amount to Rs 50,000 each with a direction that the same be deposited within one month of passing the order, failing which the order shall automatically be recalled and appeal would be deemed to be dismissed, meaning thereby, the order of DM, of imposing penalty of Rs 2 Lakh, would revive.

Noticing the fact that Pawan Kumar was arrested in some other case and was lodged in jail which had rendered him incapable to surrender before the jail authorities on 24-07-2019. They stood surety to said convict Pawan on humanitarian grounds, who had already undergone 13 years of the actual sentence and was granted parole of three weeks. The Court observed,

Both the petitioners were petty old farmers, having meager land holdings as petitioner 1 was aged about 58 years and petitioner 2 was aged about 60 years. They did not had any independent source of income.

Citing the case of Gopal Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2010 SCC OnLine P&H 3751, the Court set aside the penalty of Rs 2 Lakh each, as imposed by the DM as well as the conditional order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, directing the petitioners to pay Rs 50,000.

The amount of penalty was reduced to Rs.5,000. The petitioners were further granted three months’ time to deposit the reduced penalty. [Urmila Devi v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 244, decided on 04-02-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench comprising of C.T. Selvam and S. Ramathilagam, JJ. ordered parole of two weeks to a life-convict in light of exercising his conjugal rights.

In the present case, the petitioner is the wife of the life convict, who sought leave for her husband for the purpose of the exercise of conjugal rights. Petitioner’s husband is an undertrial prisoner and is a convict under two cases, on the file of Principal District and Sessions Court, Pudukottai, jail authorities are said to be precluded from granting leave to detenu under Section 35 of Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules, 1982.

While placing reliance on the decision of Madras High Court, Madurai Bench in Meharaj v. State, 2018 1 HCC (Mad) 150 in which it was stated that:

“Conjugal visit leads to strong family bonds and keep the family functional rather than the family becoming dysfunctional due to prolonged isolation and lack of sexual contact.”;

the High Court considered the above-stated decision to be appropriate and concluded to grant leave to the petitioner’s husband for the purpose of conjugal visit for a period of two weeks subject to certain conditions. [P. Muthumari v. Home Secretary,2018 SCC OnLine Mad 3304, dated 26-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sanghi and I.S. Mehta, JJ., dismissed a writ of habeas corpus wherein the petitioner sought directions to the respondents to release him from, what he claimed, illegal detention at Tihar jail.

The petitioner was a convict in the Sardar Beant Singh (CM of Punjab) Murder case. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had sentenced him to suffer life imprisonment. Earlier, the petitioner, while lodged in Budhail jail in Chandigarh, had dug a tunnel and absconded. He was subsequently arrested in Delhi in another case. As he was a hardened criminal and a high-risk convict, learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed the authorities of Tihar jail to keep the petitioner in high-risk cell where he had been lodged since. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that he was undergoing sentence as awarded by Punjab and Haryana High Court so he should be transferred to that State.

The High Court found no merit in the petition. The Court observed that no constitutional or statutory provision was brought to notice which mandates that as a life convict, the petitioner had a right to be imprisoned in a particular prison, in a particular state. No convict can claim that he should be placed in a prison situated at a place of his choice. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that convict is kept in a safe and secure environment so as to ensure that neither he suffers from any risks or dangers, nor he is in a position to pose any risk or dangers or escape from custody. For such and other reasons, as discussed by the High Court, the petition was dismissed as sans merit. [Jagtar Singh Hawara v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10158, dated 23-07-2018]