Bombay High Court: MCOCA Convicts Cannot Be Excluded From 2006 Remission Policy

Bombay High Court: MCOCA Convicts Cannot Be Excluded From 2006 Remission Policy

The observation was made by Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC while hearing a plea by underworld don turned politician Arun Gawli seeking early release from prison

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 04:48 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Mumbai: Convicts under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) cannot be excluded from availing the benefits of the 2006 remission policy if they are entitled to it, observed the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court while hearing a plea by underworld don turned politician Arun Gawli seeking early release from prison.  The court has held that Gawli is “entitled” to benefits of the remission policy and hence directed the authorities to “pass consequential order” in that regard. 

“We hold that the petitioner (Gawli) is entitled to the benefits flowing from the remission policy dated 10.01.2006, which was prevailing on the date of his conviction. We also hold that by applying the rule of ejusdem generis [of the same kind], convicts of MCOC Act cannot be excluded from availing the benefits of the said policy. Writ Petition is accordingly allowed,” a bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Vrushali Joshi said. 

Gawli was convicted under MCOCA
The court then directed the authority concerned to “pass consequential order in that regard within a period of four weeks from the date of uploading of the order”.  Gawli was convicted under MCOCA and sentenced to life in prison on August 31, 2012, for murder of Shiv Sena leader Kamlakar Jamsandekar. He has already spent 14 years in prison. The 65-year-old was certified as weak by the Medical Board. 

The state government formulated policies for premature or early release of convicts based on different criteria, including good behaviour and number of years spent behind bars. These policies are revised periodically. In 2006, the remission policy was revised which provided for the early release of life convicts who have served 14 years of actual imprisonment, reached the age of 65, and are physically weak. However, the policy specifies that it would not be applicable to those convicted under social Acts like MPDA, TADA, NDPS, etc. 

Policy amended in 2015

In 2015, the policy was amended to exclude its application to convicts under MCOCA. When Gawli completed 14 years in prison and turned 65, he applied for remission, but the authorities rejected it under the 2015 policy. Gawli challenged this before the HC. Gawli’s advocate MN Ali argued that gawli was convicted in 2012, the 2006 policy was in effect, hence the modified 2015 policy cannot be applied for rejecting his early remission.  

State prosecutor MJ Khan opposed the plea contending that the 2006 policy excludes convicts under special Acts like MPDA, TADA, NDPS, etc. He contended that the “etc.” encompassed the convicts under MCOCA also.  The HC, however, said that MCOCA existed before the 2006 policy was framed and mentioned in the excluded category.  “Therefore, it can be logically inferred that the MCOC Act was an intentional exclusion from clause 3[b] of the policy,” the bench added. Moreover, the 2015 specifically explicitly excludes MCOCA convicts, which was not the case in the 2006 policy, the bench underlined. 

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