Home India News Apex court refuses to stay Andhra Pradesh’s amnesty plan

Apex court refuses to stay Andhra Pradesh’s amnesty plan


New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to stall an Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to release over 1,000 prisoners to mark the Independence Day celebrations Aug 15.

Three days before the proposed release of the prisoners, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan refused to interfere with the state government’s decision, saying that it would hear the matter only on the day slated for it – Aug 24.

As senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for petitioner Guntur-based advocate Sateesh Galla, pointed out that by the time the court would hear the matter all the 1000-odd prisoners would have been let off, the bench said they might again be arrested.

In his lawsuit, Galla said the Andhra Pradesh government order dated July 24 to release the prisoners had been issued by the chief secretary without due authorisation by the governor and without following due process of law.

Galla said the prisoners, who have been proposed to be released include various categories of life convicts, who have served actual jail terms of merely five to seven years.

The inmates due for release include those convicted of charges of terrorism, smuggling, organised crimes, human trafficking, said Galla, adding that the decision to release such hardened criminals is an affront to the feelings of the victims of their crimes.

Besides adversely affecting the law and order in the state, such large-scale release of hardened criminals would also demoralise the police force and the judiciary, said Galla.

The bench, which included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan, refused to give an early hearing to the plea and stall the proposed release of the prisoners.

The apex court’s leniency in refusing to interfere with the Andhra Pradesh government decision stood in sharp contrast to an earlier court proceeding.

On Feb 8, 2008, while adjudicating a similar lawsuit against Andhra Pradesh government’s 2007 decision to release over 1,500 prisoners on the Independence Day that year, Chief Justice Balakrishnan had severely rebuked the government.

The apex court bench had severely censured political parties’ tendencies to remit sentences of hardened criminals, saying that even the constitutional authorities cannot exercise illegally their power to grant clemency.

“These (Andhra Pradesh government) orders are virtually for wholesale release of prisoners,” the bench had then said.

“We know that it (release) will be supported by all the political parties, who will be benefited by it.”

Brushing aside the state government’s contention that it was constitutionally empowered to grant clemency, the chief justice had ticked off the state government, saying, “Your clemency powers cannot be contrary to the law.”

“All the constitutional powers ought to be exercised in accordance with the law,” snapped the chief justice. “Let the governor exercise this power, we will see how he can act contrary to the law.”