The Three Judge Supreme Court (SC) Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana,   Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, while directing release of two convicts on probation, observed that any assessment regarding likelihood to commit crime upon release must be based on antecedents as well as conduct of the prisoner while in jail and not merely on his age or apprehensions of the victims and witnesses.

Vikky and Satish (Petitioners) have been serving life imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping of Vishal Sarawat (Victim), for ransom. Satish’s plea for premature release was rejected on the following groundsfirst, the crime is heinous, second, petitioner is hardly 53-­54 years old and can repeat the crime, third, informant has serious apprehensions against his release, and fourth, governmental authorities have adversely commented upon his release considering its direct adverse effect on the society. Similarly, for Vikky, on grounds of his age of 43 years, healthy physical condition, apprehensions of informant and nature of crime.

Taking note of these grounds of rejecting the plea for premature release, the bench comprising observed that the three factors of evaluation (i) antecedents (ii) conduct during incarceration and (iii) likelihood to abstain from crime, under Section 2 of the UP Prisoners Release on Probation Act, 1938, have been given a complete go­by.

The bench while directing release also referred to recent judgments Shor v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2020 SCC OnLine SC 626) and Munna v. State of Uttar Pradesh (Order passed by SC in WP (Cri) 4 of 2020). Taking note of their conduct in jail, the bench observed that it is extremely unlikely that they would commit any act which could shatter or shame their familial dreams. It said:

“In the present case, considering how the petitioners have served nearly two decades of incarceration and have thus suffered the consequences of their actions; a balance between individual and societal welfare can be struck by granting the petitioners conditional  premature release, subject to their continuing good conduct. This would both ensure that liberty of the petitioners is not curtailed, nor that there is any increased threat to society. Suffice to say that this order is not irreversible and can always be recalled in the event of any future misconduct or breach by the petitioners.

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Judgment link: Satish v. State of UP