The Kerala High Court Friday quashed an order issued by the then LDF government in 2011, releasing 209 prisoners prematurely, before the expiry of their jail term.
A full bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy, however, directed the governor to examine the details of the released prisoners within six months and if anyone is found ineligible for early release, take appropriate steps to ensure their completion of jail term.
The order was issued on a plea filed by a prisoner's wife, who was aggrieved by her husband's case not being considered for the benefit of remission of sentence or grant of pardon, while granting such benefit to other prisoners.
In her plea, she had referred to the premature release of 209 prisoners. All of them were convicted for offences under the Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder), and in some cases for other offences also in purported exercise of the power under Article 161 of the Constitution (power of governor to grant pardons).
The court noted that the 209 prisoners, who were released prematurely, have been living as free persons in the society. "While the natural legal consequence of our quashing the government order that led to their premature release would have been to subject them to immediate re-incarceration pending a fresh decision of the governor, we refrain from issuing such a direction solely because many of them are not parties in the writ petitions before us," the court said.
"That apart, we are of the view that their conduct subsequent to their release, over the last seven years and more, should also be taken into consideration by the state government/governor, while re-considering their case for premature release from prison," it said.
In 2011, the then LDF government headed by V S Achuthanandan had released 209 prisoners who had completed 10 years imprisonment and above.
The government had claimed that in those prisoners' cases, there were favourable reports either from police or from the probationary officer or both.