As reported by Aditi Tandon on tribuneindia.com on 5 March 2008:
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News
Rape of law: Convicts walk free in Punjab
At a time when voices seeking death penalty for rape are getting stronger, Punjab is remitting the sentences of those convicted for the heinous offence. If that’s not shocking enough, picture this - rape convicts in the state have been walking free within days/months of being sentenced for the crime, sometimes within one day also.Among them is Surinder Singh, a rape convict lodged at the Hoshiarpur district jail, released on August 23 last year. The irony - he was sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment for the crime on August 22 -just a day before he was released under the remission of sentence granted by the state government on Baisakhi.
He is not the lone beneficiary of the government’s policy of remission of sentence, which holds rape convicts eligible for the grant of remission. Nine others in his league were set free on similar grounds from the Hoshiarpur jail alone; another 11 rape convicts from this jail will be released at different dates from 2008 to 2014, their sentences already remitted.
Ironically, these releases are becoming possible because the offence involved is rape alone - sans murder. The remission of sentence orders issued by the government - copies of which are with The Tribune - show that only those convicted for culpable homicide (murder) along with rape are ineligible for the remission of sentence, as clarified again in the April 11, 2007, remission order of the government. It lists seven categories of offences on which the benefit of remission of sentence is not applicable. Rape does not figure in the list. Nor does murder except when the victim is a child below 14 years or the murder is double and involves extreme bestiality.
Strange it is that criminals convicted for rape can go free only because rape has not been followed by culpable homicide. Over the past five years, several rape convicts have been liberated before they could atone for their crimes, whose average trial takes three to four years.
A Tribune analysis of information procured under the RTI Act from different jails of Punjab by H.C. Arora shows that 10 rape convicts from the Hoshiarpur jail have been liberated in a “dream time” of a few days in the past five years; 11 are in line for release, their sentences already remitted.
In most cases, the sentence of punishment is seven or 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment, but convicts like Jasvir Kumar have simply got lucky. He was out of jail within 25 days of being sentenced for rape. This year, three rape convicts have already gone free -Mohinder Pal, sentenced on January 20, 2006, was released from jail on February 1 this year; Bhivishan Paswan, sentenced on February 7, 2007, was out on January 4 this year; another rape convict Sukhwinder Singh was sentenced on September 3 and freed this year on January 25.
A remission order may again be round the corner, on Baisakhi. For the record - Punjab released rape (and murder) convicts under seven remission orders issued by the Governor over five years. In 2005, two such orders were issued on June 15 and November 15.
Dates and occasions of other remission orders are - August 14, 2002 and 2003; November 15, 2005 (birth day of Guru Nanak); September 21 2004 (quincentenary birth celebrations of Guru Angad Dev); June 15, 2005 (martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev); August 14, 2006, and April 11, 2007 (Baisakhi).