Granting parole of 45 days to a man serving a life term for murder, the Delhi High Court recently held that courts must balance sensitivity with the law while dealing with such cases.
A single judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma was hearing the plea of Uttarakhand native Kundan Singh, who is serving a life term in a murder case, seeking parole for two months to “settle the partition of undivided property of joint Hindu family, to maintain social ties and family relations and to curb inner stress”. The man’s parole was rejected by the deputy secretary (home), Government of Delhi, on July 27 as his jail conduct was “unsatisfactory” and multiple punishments were awarded to him for breach of prison rules.
A trial court in January 2014 convicted Singh for the murder of one Vipin Kumar who was found with his head, hands and legs hacked off and thrown away in a jungle near Lado Sarai bus stand in 2007. The high court had upheld his conviction in 2015. The Supreme Court dismissed his special leave petition against the conviction and sentence in 2019.
Singh’s counsel argued that the reason given by the Tihar Jail authorities for rejecting the parole was that he had not completed two years since his last punishment was awarded. He said that this matter is pending inquiry before the concerned district and sessions judge, and he has already been punished for the same by the jail authorities. He also pointed out that Singh was granted parole seven times in the past, including emergency parole between April and May, on account of his mother’s death anniversary.
Additional Public Prosecutor for the state argued that the prison records indicate that Singh was awarded punishments for prison offences on 17 occasions between 2013 and January 2022.
The high court, in its November 1 judgment, however, observed that Singh had not been involved in any offence involving violence and the last two punishments were still a matter of inquiry before the district and sessions judge. “Therefore, it is yet not clear whether they will be found to be liable for major punishment or not,” the high court said.
The high court noted that Singh had been in custody for more than 14 years. “While considering grant of parole, the court also has to remain conscious of the fact that the petitioner has been awarded life imprisonment and circumstances have arisen in the last 14 years (under) which he needs to attend to family exigencies. Sensitivity and compassion balanced with rules, regulations and law needs to be maintained by any court as one is dealing with humans and not mere files and orders,” it observed.
After considering the time spent by Singh in jail, and the “exigencies” that had to be attended to by him after the death of his mother, the high court granted him parole for 45 days from the date of his release on a personal bond of Rs 25,000.
Singh was directed to not leave Nainital, Uttarakhand without the permission of the court. He was also directed to report to the concerned station house officer (SHO) at Kathgodam, Nanital every Wednesday and mark his appearance.