Haryana’s law exempts Ram Rahim from being categorised as hardcore prisoner - Hindustan Times
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Haryana’s law exempts dera chief Ram Rahim from being categorised as hardcore prisoner

By, Chandigarh
Mar 02, 2024 04:30 AM IST

The Haryana govt after seeking legal opinion from AG Baldev Mahajan in 2022 concluded that Ram Rahim did not fall in category of hardcore convicted prisoners.

Imprisoned following his sentencing in three criminal cases, the head of Sirsa-based sect, Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been regularly able to get temporary release from prison in the form of either parole or furlough as he does not fall in the category of hardcore convicted prisoners under a state law. 

Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim.(File)
Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim.(File)

A hardcore convicted prisoner as defined in Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 2022, means a prisoner convicted of serial killing i.e. murder under Section 302 of the IPC in two or more cases in different first information reports, murder if the offender is involved in contract killing as apparent from the facts mentioned in the judgment of the case, lurking house trespass, murder or attempt to murder for extortion, rape or penetrative sexual assault or aggravated penetrative sexual assault or unnatural offence with murder, rape or penetrative sexual assault or aggravated penetrative sexual assault or unnatural offence with a child below 16, gang rape or rape, immoral trafficking involving minors etc.

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Also Read | Do not consider parole to Ram Rahim without court’s permission: HC

The Haryana government, after seeking legal opinion from advocate general (AG) Baldev Raj Mahajan in 2022 concluded that Ram Rahim Singh did not fall in the category of hardcore convicted prisoners — defined as those who, among several other crimes, are convicted for “serial killing”, that is murder under Section 302 of the IPC in two or more cases in different first information reports.

“The term used in this provision is murder simpliciter and no other offence is mentioned anywhere. It clearly indicates that the legislation has intended to cover only the actual killer under the definition of hardcore prisoner and not the conspirator. In order to cover a prisoner under the definition of ‘hardcore prisoner’, it is necessary that he must have participated in actual commission of the substantive offence of murder under Section 302 of the IPC and the aiding offence of criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B read with Section 302 of the IPC will not be covered under the category of hardcore prisoner,’’ the AG’s opinion reads.

Also Read | Why is Ram Rahim, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, out on parole again?

The dera head who is serving a 20-year sentence for rape after he was convicted in 2017 of raping his two disciples was subsequently convicted in two murder cases and will serve life sentences of those crimes after this jail term. Ram Rahim Singh and three others were convicted in January 2019 for the murder of a journalist. In October 2021, the dera chief and four others were convicted for hatching a conspiracy to kill Ranjit Singh, a manager at the dera.

Haryana’s new law on temporary release

The Haryana government in 2022 came out with a new law - the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 2022, which entitled a prisoner to 10 weeks of parole in a calendar year (January to December) cumulatively which could be availed in two parts. The new law also permitted temporary release of three weeks on furlough which could not be availed in parts.

The category of hardcore prisoners was introduced in 2012 as an amendment to an earlier law enacted in 1988. The 1988 law laid down stringent conditions on parole or furlough. One of them was that a prisoner may be considered for temporary release if a member of the prisoner’s family had died or was seriously ill, or the prisoner themselves were seriously ill, or for their own weddings, as well as those of close blood relations, or for agricultural activity.

The 2022 law does not stipulate such conditions but has different categories of parole — regular, emergency and custodial.

A hardcore convicted prisoner not sentenced to life or death penalty as defined in the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 2022, is not eligible for regular parole, emergency parole or furlough. A hardcore convicted prisoner sentenced to life, as per the Act, is eligible for emergency or regular parole only after completion of seven years of imprisonment after conviction.

A hardcore convicted prisoner can be granted custody parole for attending funeral of his family members or marriage of his children or sibling for not more than six hours for one event excluding the journey time.

Hearing a petition filed by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) challenging the grant of temporary release to the dera head, the Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) on Thursday said the dera head, who has conviction in three cases against him, has been released for 91 days each in 2022 and 2023. While the HC did not strike down the 50-day parole granted to him in January 2024, it observed that in spite of pendency of the present petition in which notice of motion was issued on January 29, 2023, Haryana still chose to grant him indulgence of parole again on July 20, 2023, November 21, 2023, and January 19, 2024, for a period of 30, 21 and 50 days, respectively. At present, the respondent is on parole up to March 10, 2024, the HC said.

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