HC dismisses Dr Qasim’s petition

‘Life Imprisonment Means Detention For Entire Life’

D A RASHID

Srinagar, Nov 16: Ruling that life imprisonment means imprisonment for entire life, Jammu and Kashmir High Court Friday dismissed the petition of Muslim League Chairman Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo seeking his release.
Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir announced the judgment after hearing arguments of Faktoo’s counsel Mian Abdul Qayoom and senior Additional Advocate General AM Magray representing the State.
The Court held that the judgment was passed ‘in light of the law laid down by the judgments of Apex Court and other courts’ which it cited while dismissing the petition of Dr Faktoo.
Referring to the argument of counsel for petitioner that in terms of Section 57 of RPC, life imprisonment means imprisonment for 20 years, the court held, “The argument is devoid of any force as the object of the said section is how to calculate the fractions of terms of punishment and provides that imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for 20 years, when punishment is to be awarded to a co-accused, who is also involved in the same offence either by abetment, conspiracy or attempt, in which the main accused is awarded the sentence of imprisonment for life.” The court has cited SC judgment titled Swamy Shradananda vs State of Karnataka in this regard.
The court said the contention that the provisions contained in the Jail Manual and Prisons Act mandate that imprisonment for life means 20 years has no substance. “The provisions contained in the Jail Manual, Prisons Act and Prisoners Act are just how to regulate and manage the prisoners in the prisons.” The court cited Apex Court Judgment G. V. Godse vs State of Maharashtra in support of its judgment.
The Court said that the grounds that after completion of 20 years of life imprisonment the convict is automatically entitled to be released is not tenable for the reason that if jail authorities take into consideration the conduct of convict and make a recommendation for his remission or release after 20 years or 14 years, the order of the Government is pre-requisite.
“It is the domain of the Government to consider the case along with the recommendation made and pass the order. Writ of mandamus cannot command the Government for passing such order or to release the convict after expiry of 14 years or 20 years without any specific order,” the Court said.
Mian Abdul Qayoom had argued that Dr Faktoo had earned remission for his good behavior in the jail and his cumulative period of detention came out to be 20 years which amounted to life imprisonment.
He had argued that Dr Faktoo completed 20 years in prison on May 31, 2012, which as per the Jail Manual and Prisons Act amounts to life imprisonment.
“Criminal Procedure Code has no application with our case and it can’t overrule special laws such as Prisoners Act and Jail Manual which provide for the release of Faktoo,” he had argued. Senior Additional Advocate General A M Magray had argued his case on two counts: “remission earned does not mean remission granted and 20 years does not mean life imprisonment.”
He had told the Court that in Faktoo’s case no remission was granted saying there is a palpable difference between remission earned and remission granted. “Remission can’t be claimed as matter of right,” he contended.
He had referred to sections of Criminal Procedure Code and Supreme Court judgments in support of his contention against Faktoo’s release.

BACKGROUND
Dr Qasim was first detained in 1993 under the Public Safety Act. However, after six years of imprisonment, a TADA court acquitted him of all the charges. Police later rearrested him at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in 2002 after attending a conference on Kashmir in London.
In 2003 he was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of his alleged involvement in murder of human rights activist, H N Wanchoo. Faktoo had denied the charges.
Earlier, a bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had directed to release him in 90 days. The government had challenged the decision in division bench and in September 2011, the division bench observed that TADA convict can’t be released prematurely after 14 years. The division bench said the case be considered only after the imprisonment of 20 years.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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