Free Press Journal

Collect data of old prisoners & decide on their ‘early’ release: HC tells govt


The HC issued directions to the state goverment to enable the implementing of its decade-old notification pertaining to the early release of old prisoners. The HC accordingly asked the Director General of Prisons to personally look into the issue and ensure that the notification was implemented.

Mumbai : The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently directed the Maharashtra government to collect data of old prisoners from all its jails. The HC issued the direction to enable the implementing of the government’s decade-old notification pertaining to the early release of age old prisoners. The HC has accordingly asked the Director General of Prisons to personally look into the issue and ensure the notification is implemented.

A division bench of Justice Prasanna Varale and Justice Vibha Kankanwadi was seized with a writ petition filed by a 65-year-old man seeking his premature release.

The old man contended that he has completed his actual punishment of 14 years and five months and sought his release. To substantiate his prayer, the man had relied upon a January 2006 notification of the government. The notification allowed premature release of male prisoners above the age of 65 years and female prisoners, who have crossed the age of 60 years.

The notification further stated that this facility can be availed only after a five-member medical committee opines that the prisoner has become infirm. The Committee consists of District Civil Surgeon, District Health Officer, Jail Superintendent, the Medical Officer of the Prison and also the Additional Senior Prison Officer.

During the course of hearing, the judges were informed that the committee has not been functioning regularly in almost all the districts. The judges were further informed that the committee meets only as and when its opinion is required.

Taking a note of the same, Justice Varale said, “In our opinion, this is not the object of the notification issued in January 2006. If the Committee is constituted for taking decision for premature release of the prisoners who are old and infirm, then such cases must be kept before it at periodical intervals.”

“If the Jail Superintendent and also the Additional Senior Prison Officer are integral part of the committee, in our view, nothing prevents the prison authorities to collect data which is available with them in respective prisons and put such cases periodically before the medical committee, so that timely decisions can be taken.,” Justice Varale said.

Justice Varale further said that if the committee waits for an invitation from the prison authorities and if the prison authorities are left at their will, to call the committee meetings, then the object of the government notification would be ‘frustrated.’

“Considering this fact, we are of the opinion that the prison authorities and more particularly the two members of the committee (prison officers) to collect necessary information or data and to put up such cases before the committee periodically, at least once in three months. We hope and trust that the Director General of Prisons would personally look into the matter and see that there is proper compliance of the directions of this court,” Justice Varale added.

The judges accordingly disposed the petition by referring the old-man’s case to the concerned medical committee.