THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a reply sent to Abhaya Case Action Council convener Jomon Puthenpurackal, the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) has stated that the high-powered committee had never recommended the 90-day special parole granted to Abhaya murder case life convicts -- Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy, who were lodged at the Poojapura Central Jail and Attakulangara Women’s Prison respectively.
Earlier, the prisons department had said that it granted parole based on the recommendation of the high-powered committee constituted by the Supreme Court.
The letter was sent to Jomon after he wrote to KELSA executive chairman and High Court Judge C T Ravikumar. KELSA said in the letter that it had never recommended the parole release of life convicts.
The prisons department released over 1,500 prisoners, including the two life convicts, as part of its efforts to decongest prisons in the wake of the second wave of Covid.
Earlier, DGP (prisons) Rishiraj Singh had also mentioned in a reply to Jomon that he had granted special parole based on the direction of the high-powered committee and considering the age of the convicts.
The parole for the two murder convicts, sentenced to double life rigorous imprisonment and rigorous life imprisonment respectively, was granted on May 11, 2021.
The committee had only identified a class of prisoners, taking into account the gravity of offences, for release to decongest prisons because of Covid spread.
KELSA clarified in the letter that the high-powered committee had only recommended the release of prisoners involved in offences punishable up to 10 years, that too with certain exemptions.
“It has been proved that the state government had illegally granted parole to the convicts in the Abhaya case before completing five months in jail after the court sentenced them to life imprisonment,” Jomon said in a statement.
He also pointed out that the bail petitions filed by Fr Thomas Kottur and Sr Sephy in the High Court were adjourned, without granting bail, by a division bench headed by Justice K Vinod Chandran five times in the past seven months.
“It has been alleged that even the general rule that the ‘government should not grant parole if there is a petition in any court’ in order for the accused to be granted bail was not considered when the government granted parole to the accused in the asylum case. It has been alleged that the state government has not even considered the general norm that ‘the government should not grant parole if there is a petition in any court’ if the accused or convicted move the court seeking bail,” Jomon’s statement said.
Meanwhile, S Santosh, DIG (prisons), told TNIE that the prisons department had granted bail to many life convicts and it had not shown any favouritism towards Abhaya case convicts.
He also made it clear that the department has only followed the guidelines of the High Court and the state government issued last year.
“During the second wave, we have followed the guidelines issued last year that prisoners, including any male convict aged above 60 male and female above 50 are eligible for the 90-day parole. It was implemented based on the instructions of the Supreme Court that we could follow the same norms this year too,” Santosh said.