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Amritlal and ors. Vs. State of M.P. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1985CriLJ1096
AppellantAmritlal and ors.
RespondentState of M.P.
Cases ReferredMohansingh v. State of M.P.
Excerpt:
.....set aside. - if the state deals equally with the members of a well defined class, it is not open to charge of denial of equal protection on the ground that it has no application to other persons. 1980 mplj 665 :1981 cri lj 147 is clearly distinguishable. the remissions granted to .those castes under the impugned order had no reasonable nexus with the advancement of these castes and is not protected under article 15(4). 4. with the result the petitions fail and they are dismissed......life imprisonment prior to 18-12-1978 would be entitled to be released on completing 17 years of jail sentence, including remissions, and those prisoners who have attained the age of 65 years would be released on completing 14 years of jail sentence, including remissions. according to the petitioners, this is discriminatory and violates article 14 of the constitution.2. the 3 petitioners, amritlal, ganpat and chaitram have filed misc. petition no : 2794 of 1983 alleging that they are undergoing imprisonment for life since the year 1974-75 and they have already completed 14 years of jail sentence, including remissions. in misc. petition no. 2886 of 1983, the petitioner rajaram, is undergoing imprisonment for life since 1975 and he also claims that he has completed 14 years of jail.....
Judgment:

C.P. Sen, J.

1. By this order Misc. Petition No. 2886 of 1983 (Rajaram v. State of M. P.) is also disposed of, as the question involved is the same. They are challenging the notification of the State Government No. 6-131/3/Jail/83 dated 10-8-1983 under which it has been notified that all those prisoners who were convicted to life imprisonment prior to 18-12-1978 would be entitled to be released on completing 17 years of jail sentence, including remissions, and those prisoners who have attained the age of 65 years would be released on completing 14 years of jail sentence, including remissions. According to the petitioners, this is discriminatory and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

2. The 3 petitioners, Amritlal, Ganpat and Chaitram have filed Misc. Petition No : 2794 of 1983 alleging that they are undergoing imprisonment for life since the year 1974-75 and they have already completed 14 years of jail sentence, including remissions. In Misc. Petition No. 2886 of 1983, the petitioner Rajaram, is undergoing imprisonment for life since 1975 and he also claims that he has completed 14 years of jail sentence, Including remissions. The State has not filed any return but supported the notification issued by the State Government saying that there is a reasonable classification of life convicts who have attained the age of 65 years and those who are below 65 years of age and consequently those attaining the age of 65 years are to be released on completing 14 years of jail sentence including remissions, while other prisoners have to undergo 17 years of jail sentence, including remissions. This notification has been issued under Section 432(1) of the Code of Cr. Procedure, 1974. A new Section 433A has been introduced prescribing that all life convicts have to undergo actual 14 years of jail sentence. The decision of the Supreme Court in Maruram v. Union of India : 1980CriLJ1440 has no application to those prisoners who have been convicted prior to 18-12-1978 when the section was introduced.

3. The question is whether fixation of two sets of period of jail sentence for granting remissions depending upon the age of the life convicts, is arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution or whether the classification is reasonable and there is rationale behind fixing two sets of periods depending upon the age of the convicts. Differential treatment does not 'per se' constitute violation of Article 14. It denies equal protection only when there is no reasonable basis for the differentiation. If the State deals equally with the members of a well defined class, it is not open to charge of denial of equal protection on the ground that it has no application to other persons. It is true that the Indian Penal Code and other penal laws do not differentiate on the ground of age for imposing punishments, though under the Childrens Acts, juveniles are treated differently by prescribing that they are not to be sent to jail. There is a purpose behind it, because an immature person is likely to be spoiled further if kept with hardened criminals and possibility of reform will beremote in such cases. Similarly on the ground of young age, special provisions have been made under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 than those provided for other persons. Question of old age may not be of any consideration while imposing punishment on older people if the offence is serious and committed in a cruel and unusual manner. But in other cases, the question of old age always weighs with the Courts in awarding lesser punishments. The principal object of punishment is the prevention of offences. Remissions are granted under special circumstances by the State and also with the object of reforming the prisoners after ensuring that there is no possibility of repeating the offences. Average life span in India can be taken to be 65 years. So normally a person attaining the age of 65 years may not commit further offence. So life convicts attaining age of 65 years are given remissions after completing 14 years of jail sentence, including remissions, but younger people are given remissions after completing a longer period of jail sentence, i.e. 17 years, including remissions. So there is justification for treating all life convicts, who have attained 65 years of age, differently as a class from other life convicts. It may be mentioned that special consideration is given on account of old age while granting bail in non-bailable offences under the Code of Cr. Procedure. So the classification is reasonable and does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution. The decision of this Court in Mohansingh v. State of M.P. 1980 MPLJ 665 : 1981 Cri LJ 147 is clearly distinguishable. There under an earlier notification of the M. P. Government dated 25-M978 special remissions were granted to prisoners belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. It was held that the order was discriminatory being violative of Article 15(1) of the -Constitution. Other prisoners are entitled to be treated equally and to remissions given to prisoners belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The remissions granted to .those castes under the impugned order had no reasonable nexus with the advancement of these castes and is not protected under Article 15(4).

4. With the result the petitions fail and they are dismissed.


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