CUTTACK: The Odisha High Court has sought a response from the State Government on a PIL requesting a direction for framing modalities for proper functioning of the State Sentence Review Board to consider cases of all life convicts who have already completed 14 years of imprisonment. The petition has alleged that the Government has not been proactive in providing justice to the life convicts who have been in jail for very long years. The petition has made the allegation while seeking direction for premature release of three life convicts who have been serving life imprisonment for over 26 years.
Manas Ranjan Singh, a human rights activist of Baliguda in Kandhamal district, filed the petition on the basis of information obtained through RTI. Petitioner counsel Khirod Rout made his submissions during a preliminary hearing on the petition on Monday.The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanju Panda and Justice SK Sahoo posted the matter to March 2 for hearing along with the response from the Government. The Court directed the State counsel to take instructions from the Government by then.
As per the petition, three convicts, Ragolu Chinna, Gedela Apparao and Ketti Venkat Rao of Srikakulam, are in Central Prison at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh since their transfer from Berhampur Circle Jail in Ganjam on “reciprocal basis” in 2009. They were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Parlakhemundi following conviction in a murder for dacoity case on March 6, 1994.
The authorities of the Central Prison had recommended their names for premature release to the State Government in 2012 and 2016.Singh had submitted a representation on July 30, 2019 to the secretaries of Home and Law departments and Additional DG (Prisons and Correctional Services) to consider the case of three life convicts for premature release on grounds of their age, period of imprisonment undergone and recommendation made by the authorities of Central Jail. But no reply had been received, the petition said. Following this, Singh filed the petition seeking HC direction over the issue.