NEW DELHI, India—The Supreme Court has restored the State government’s constitutional powers to remit and permanently release the Sikh life convicts, but the exceptions implemented by the Supreme Court to exercise these powers has increased the headache of the Badal government. It is notable that the apex court has restricted the state governments from exercising these powers in the case of convicts facing charges under TADA or the cases being investigated by central agencies like the CBI.
While the Punjab government is facing the wrath of the Sikh diaspora due to the half-year long hunger strike of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, at the same time the new verdict of the Supreme Court of India has increased its problems, because it has made the government helpless in this issue. In the case of the release or remission of 17 political Sikh prisoners listed by the Sangharsh Committee, for example, the Punjab state government doesn’t hold any constitutional power anymore as all the political Sikh prisoners are facing cases of TADA or the cases are being investigated by central agencies.
Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, who has been maintaining the data of political Sikh prisoners from 2004, says that the Supreme Court has restricted the state governments only from pardoning convicts, not from granting them parole on a permanent basis. He said that most of the convicts enlisted in the list submitted to the Government are already enjoying parole.
Rumors of Central BJP’s internal pressure on the Akali government to inhibit them from releasing political Sikh prisoners also couldn’t be ignored. Now, the Akali government is entangled in this issue. If it ignores the issue and doesn’t take any action, then it might lose the vote bank of the Sikhs. On the other side if it releases the prisoners by granting permanent parole, then the Badals will have to face the wrath of the BJP.