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Section 433 Crpc: The Tale of Kesar Singh's Legal Odyssey

"Premature release under Section 433 is not a matter of right; rather, it is entirely at the discretion of the Government. The court cannot issue any mandatory direction compelling the Government to commute a sentence. In the case of State of Punjab vs. Kesar Singh (1996) 5 SCC 495, the respondent was convicted of an offence under Sections 302/34 of the IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment. After serving a period of imprisonment for a little more than 8 years, the respondent approached the High Court of Punjab & Haryana under Section 482 for commutation of sentence and premature release. The High Court allowed the petition; however, the State challenged the order before the Supreme Court. The court held that since clause (b) of Section 433 stipulates that the sentence of imprisonment for life may be commuted to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or a fine, and the respondent had not completed a 14-year sentence when he approached the High Court under Section 482 CrPC, the High Court could not issue such a direction. It could only direct the Government to consider the case, as the right to exercise the power under Section 433 vests with the Government and must be exercised by the Government in accordance with the rules and established principles. Nevertheless, the court, while setting aside the impugned judgment of the High Court, stated that the respondent, if he so desired, could approach the Government for the purpose, in terms of the order issued by the Punjab & Haryana Government."

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