The Supreme Court yesterday closed a contempt case against the Director General of Prisons of Uttar Pradesh after the state government apprised it of its decision to prematurely release several convicts serving life imprisonment in the state jails.

On January 20, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud issued a show cause notice to the DG-Prisons as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated against him for alleged violation of its orders by which it had directed the prison authorities to consider and decide pleas for premature release of life convicts within three months.

As soon as the bench commenced the hearing, Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad, appearing for the state government, said decisions have been taken to order the premature release of a large number of convicts, who deserved to be granted remission, on Republic Day.

She urged the apex court to dispose of the contempt plea.

The bench took note of the submissions of the AAG and disposed of the contempt plea.

According to the 2018 policy of the Uttar Pradesh government, a convict serving a life term would be considered for premature release if he/she has undergone a total of 20 years of sentence, 16 years of the actual sentence and four years of remission.

While issuing the notice, the apex court had taken note of the submissions of lawyer Rishi Malhotra that its earlier orders, including one of March 14 last year on the premature release of convicts within three months have not been complied with as of date.

"On March 14, 2022, this court had directed the respondent, the state of Uttar Pradesh, to consider the case of petitioners for premature release within a period of three months. Though most of the 48 petitioners have been granted permission for release, the remaining cases have not been considered. Thereafter, in a contempt petition, this court passed an order on October 21, 2022 for the consideration of cases in 6 weeks," the bench had said in its order.

Despite the subsequent order, the decision on premature release has not been taken, the bench had said while noting down the submissions of the lawyer.

"Issue notice returnable on next Friday (January 27). An additional copy of the paper book shall be issued to Garima Prasad... (counsel for the state government)," it had said.

The court had, however, said the personal appearance of the DG-Prisons was not needed before it on January 27.

Earlier, the apex court had on October 21 last year directed that the case of the petitioners for premature release be considered within three months from the date of the order.

"We grant a period of six weeks for the taking of a final decision and for its communication to the petitioners on the application for premature release. Since the State has assured that they would comply within six weeks, it is not expedient in the interest of justice to pursue the contempt jurisdiction any further," the bench had said while disposing of an earlier contempt plea.

The court had issued notice for January 27 to the state government and its prison authorities on a fresh contempt plea filed by Mohd Nurulla and others.

The apex court, while taking note of another similar petition on January 5 this year, had asked the Uttar Pradesh director general of prisons to file an affidavit in his personal capacity giving details about the steps taken so far to grant the benefit of remission to convicts in the state in pursuance of its earlier judgment.

The court had on September 6 last year taken note of the Uttar Pradesh policy on remission which said there will be no requirement for a convict to submit an application for premature release and their cases will be considered automatically by the jail authorities.

It had asked the state government to follow the criteria laid down in its 2018 policy while considering within four months the issue of the premature release of 512 prisoners who were serving life imprisonment and had moved the apex court.

With PTI Inputs