News: The Gujarat government has decided to grant 15-day parole to prisoners above 60 years of age and women prisoners, except those booked in serious offences, as a ‘Diwali gift’.
What is Parole?
- Furlough and parole envisage a short-term release from custody, both aimed as reformative steps towards prisoners. Parole is granted to meet a “specific exigency” and cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
- Both provisions are subject to the circumstances of the prisoner, such as jail behaviour, the gravity of offences, sentence period and public interest.
- Furlough may be granted without any specific reason after a convict spends a stipulated number of years. It is a matter of right although cannot be claimed as an ‘absolute legal right’.
- The state governments often take a compassionate view on applications for parole during festivals of Diwali, Rakshabandhan, etc. The legislature/politicians do not have direct powers to grant parole on suo-motu cognizance. The announcement only indicates that prisoners will have to make applications to the authorities concerned, which in turn will be considered with leniency and expeditiously.
- The applications will, however, be subject to scrutiny and the prisoners’ conduct and gravity of their offence.
Procedure for parole:
- The provision of parole is available to convicts found guilty by a court and such a prisoner.
- The prisoner’s relative/legal aid may submit an application to the prison superintendent.
- He/she in turn forwards the application to the ‘competent authority’, often under the jurisdiction of district magistrate concerned and comprising prison and police authorities, to sanction release.
- After due verification of reasons and prisoner’s conduct by the competent authority, an order for grant of release on parole will be issued.
- In case of rejection of the said application, a convict may approach the High Court.
- The Prison rules state that parole period may be granted for not more than 30 days.
- The competent authority may exercise its discretion in case of serious illnesses or death of “nearest relative such as mother, father, sister, brother, children, spouse of the prisoner, or in case of natural calamity.”
- Parole or extension of parole cannot be granted without a report of the police
- Apart from the remedy to approach a high court for parole in case of a rejected application, a prison can also approach the high court directly in case of an extraordinary emergency.