As part of a memorial and tribute for the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the scheme of a nationwide remission of certain categories of prisoners as a gesture of generosity and benevolence on 18th July 2018.
The scheme of remission is planned in three phases –
In Phase-I, the prisoners would be released on 2nd October, 2018 on the occasion of Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
In Phase-II, prisoners would be released on 10th April, 2019 on the Anniversary of Champaran Satyagrah.
In Phase-III, prisoners would be released on 2nd October 2019 on the Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Union Cabinet has listed the following categories of prisoners who would be considered for such remission:
Women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.
Transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.
Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.
Physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70% disability and more, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.
Terminally ill convicts.
Convicted prisoners who have completed two-third (66%) of their actual sentence period.
Further, special remission would not be granted in the following cases:
Prisoners who have been convicted of heinous crimes like dowry death, rape, human trafficking;
Certain prisoners whose offences have constituted the punishment of a sentence of death or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment;
Prisoners involved and convicted under various laws as amended thereof including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act 1987, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, etc.
The Ministry of Home Affairs would issue advice to all states and union territories in India and would direct the state governments to process the cases of eligible prisoners. The administrations in charge would be further advised to constitute a Committee to examine the cases. The state governments would then place the recommendations of the Committee before their Governor for his/her consideration.
The Constitution of India 1950 has empowered the following authorities to grant pardons, etc and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases:
In case of a union territory- say, the President of India (Article 72)
In case of a state- the Governor of such state (Article 161)
Although, such remissions have earlier taken place in various states of Assam, Punjab, Delhi etc but this special remission of releasing the aforesaid categories of prisoners, comes at a significant time and is being considered as a befitting homage to the humanitarian values that Gandhi advocated.
Senior Legal Associate
Faculty of Law, ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education (IFHE), Hyderabad
The Indian Lawyer