MUMBAI: SC’s vacation bench on Monday stayed till July 15 the remission and premature release from prison permitted by Bombay HC to convicted gangster Arun Gulab Gawli.
Gawli is serving a rigorous life imprisonment sentence after an Aug 2012 conviction for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in 2007 as well in 2008 and 2009 special cases under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

A life sentence is life till the end of natural life, SC has held time and again. The state, however, has a remission policy in place for lifers.

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The state had filed a special leave petition (SLP) seeking to challenge the April 5 order of HC’s Nagpur bench that permitted the Gawli’s early release, citing a 2006 state policy for remission. The state, represented by senior counsel Raja Thakare, said the HC order was “completely misconceived” as the law gives power to remit a sentence to the govt. SC had in 1976 said only the govt possesses the sole discretion of granting remission to a convict and the state is, thus, arguing now that HC cannot compel it to release a prisoner.
HC had in April given the state four weeks to pass consequential orders for the remission’s implementation.
The state’s SLP said Gawli is a “hardened criminal turned politician” convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in a crime syndicate case and has other pending cases against him, including some under the stringent MCOCA. It said HC failed to consider the potential impact on society at large before permitting Gawli’s release.
The Maharashtra govt had on Jan 10, 2006, framed a policy for remission to those who completed 14 years of actual sentence or were over 65 years old. After the state rejected his plea, Gawli had petitioned HC seeking remission under the policy, saying he checked all boxes since he was over 65 and had completed 14 years in jail. But convicts under special laws, including Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act were excluded from that policy. Besides, when Gawli was convicted, the state already had a new premature release policy in place, implemented on March 15, 2010, requiring MCOCA convicts to serve 40 years of actual sentence to be eligible for premature release, and a 2015 policy had embargoed the premature release of MCOCA convicts.
The state said HC had “misinterpreted the policy”, saying it erroneously focussed on MCOCA not being specifically mentioned in the policy.
The SC bench of Justices Aravind Kumar and Sandeep Mehta said since it’s a matter of policy, it requires consideration and, thus, stayed the implementation of the HC order.