Monday, March 18, 2019

Every Prisoner Eligible For Emergency Parole Of 14 Days, Valid Reasons Needed For Reducing Parole Period: Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court has held that under the law, every prisoner who not a foreigner or a convict sentenced to death is eligible for emergency parole of 14 days for the death of parents, spouse, grandparents etc., and no authority can reduce the period of 14 days without recording valid reasons for the same. A division bench of Justice AS Oka and Justice AS Gadkari was hearing writ petitions filed by Dilip Pawar and Muzammil Shaikh, as both convicts had lost their respective fathers and were not allowed parole of 14 days. While Pawar was granted emergency parole of two days, Shaikh was granted parole for one day, that too with a police escort.

The Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959 were amended through notifications dated August 26, 2016, and April 16, 2018. By both the amendments, the concept of "Emergency Parole" was introduced by amending Rule 19 of the said Rules of 1959. Sub¬Rule (1) of Rule 19 of the said Rules of 1959 as amended on April 16, 2018, reads thus:¬ 

Emergency Parole¬ (A) All convicted prisoners except foreigner and death sentenced prisoners may be eligible for emergency parole of 14 days for death of parental grandfather or grandmother/father other/spouse/son/daughter/ brother/sister and marriage of son/daughter/ brother/sister, provided that no extension can be granted to emergency parole Upon examining the law, the bench noted- "In view of clause (A) of Sub¬Rule (1) of Rule 19, every prisoner, if his case is covered by the said clause, has a right to be considered for grant of emergency parole. When a power vests in the Competent Authority to grant emergency parole for 14 days, at least reasons in brief must be indicated by the Authority and recorded in the Order as to why the period of 14 days is being restricted to a period which is less than 14 days. Moreover, some reasons are required to be recorded as to why instead of granting parole without police escort, the parole is granted with police escort. Thirdly, for making emergency parole effective, the Authorities cannot insist that only during the day time, the convict will spend time with the members of the bereaved family and will have to spend the night in the nearby Jail. Such a course is not permissible, as the object of providing for grant of emergency parole is that the convicted prisoner can remain company of his family members in case of death of close relatives and can attend the obsequies." According to Shaikh, he was directed to deposit a sum of Rs.70,000 by way of charges of the police escort. Thereafter, it was found that a sum of Rs.15,895 was recovered in excess. The court observed- "We find that there are no guidelines issued by the State Government for determining the charges of police escort in such cases. The guidelines which we have referred earlier are not applicable to the prisoners to whom emergency parole is granted in police escort in exercise of the power under clause (A) of Sub-Rule (1) of Rule 19." Thereafter, APP PP Shinde informed the court that there is no such policy for fixing prices to be paid by prisoners who have been granted emergency parole with a police escort. Finally, the court directed the competent authority to consider the case of both petitioners for a grant of emergency parole in addition to the two- and one-day parole granted, respectively. More importantly, the court directed the state government to frame a policy/guidelines for fixing prices to be paid by prisoners for police escort while being released on parole. The court emphasized: "State Government shall ensure that a decision is taken by treating convicted prisoners as a separate class from those private persons who are given police security on the basis of their own request." The petitions have been disposed of and state government has been directed to file a compliance affidavit by March 18, 2019. 

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