SC stays till further orders premature release of gangster Arun Gawli in murder case

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed till further orders the premature release of gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli, who is serving life imprisonment in a murder case.
Supreme court on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli
Supreme court on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Monday stayed till further orders the premature release of gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli, who is serving life imprisonment in a murder case.

A vacation bench of Justices Aravind Kumar and Sandeep Mehta stayed the operation of the April 5 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court which ordered the state authorities to consider Gawli's application for premature release under the 2006 remission policy.

The bench also issued notice to Gawli on the plea of the state government in the matter.

Senior advocate Raja Thakare, appearing for the Maharashtra government, urged the court to stay the April 5 order of the high court saying Gawli, who is serving life term in a murder case and is convicted under provisions of MCOCA, is seeking benefit of the 2006 remission policy of the state.

The Nagpur bench of the high court had allowed the plea of Gawli in which he had sought direction to the state government for his premature release on account of the remission policy dated January 10, 2006, which was prevailing on the date of his conviction on August 31, 2012.

Gawli, who is undergoing life imprisonment for the 2007 murder case of Mumbai Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar, has claimed to have complied with all the conditions of the 2006 policy.

He said the rejection of his application for premature release by the state authorities is unjust, arbitrary and is liable to be set aside.

Gawli has contended that he has completed 65 years of age and has been certified as weak by the Medical Board making him eligible for availing the benefit of the policy.

The state government, however, has opposed his plea before the high court for premature release, saying revised guidelines dated March 18, 2010, for premature release contemplates that there shall be no premature release of a convict of organized crime unless he undergoes 40 years of actual imprisonment.

The high court rejected the submission of the state government, terming it as "totally misconceived" and said the revised guidelines of 2010 were general in nature.

It had said the 2006 policy was specifically framed for the benefit of prisoners who were of advanced age and physically weak, and the 2010 guidelines would not apply at all.

"In view of the above discussion, we hold that the petitioner is entitled to the benefits flowing from the remission policy dated January 10, 2006, which was prevailing on the date of his conviction. We also hold that by applying the rule of ejusdem generis, convicts of MCOC Act cannot be excluded from availing the benefits of the said policy. Writ Petition is accordingly allowed," the high court had ordered.

It has given state government authorities four weeks to pass a consequential order in that regard from the date of uploading of the order.

However, on May 9, the state government again moved the high court seeking four months time for implementation of the April 5 order, saying they have challenged the verdict in the apex court.

"It is informed that a Special Leave Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court. The summer vacation of the Supreme Court would commence from May 20, 2024. By virtue of our order the petitioner is required to be set free and if his release is postponed by a few months, it would curtail his liberty. However, as the Special Leave Petition was filed/registered yesterday only, we deem it appropriate to grant some breathing time to the State to obtain necessary orders from the Supreme Court," the high court had said in its May 9 order.

It gave the state government four more weeks for implementation of the April 5 order setting Gawli free and made it clear that no more extensions would be granted.

Gawli is the founder of the Akhil Bharatiya Sena and was an MLA from 2004-2009 from Chinchpokli seat of Mumbai and has shot into prominence from Dagdi Chawl, a neighbourhood of Byculla.

He was arrested and underwent a trial in 2006 for the murder of Jamsandekar and in August 2012, a sessions court in Mumbai had sentenced him to life imprisonment in the murder case. The court had also imposed a fine of Rs. 17 lakh on him.

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