A YEAR after the Maharashtra government amended the provisions of the Maharashtra Prison Manual restricting the grant of parole and furlough to convicts sentenced for serious offences of murder, rape and sexual assault of minors, the state Home department has decided to ease the rules. The proposal now is to allow ‘regular’ parole and furlough to all convicts who have appealed against their sentences. Also, instead of the Divisional Commissioner, decision on applications for emergency parole will be decided by the jail superintendent while DGP (Prisons) will take a call on those for furlough. Sources said the Prisons department has also suggested that parole and furlough should be granted to rape, dacoity and kidnapping convicts. However, the state government has expressed reservations towards revising the amendments put in place last year.
Sources said the decision has been taken considering the various appeals filed by convicts who have managed to get parole or furlough through courts and also taking into account the apprehension expressed by the Prisons department that the amended rules were against the tenets of the reformative school of punishment, which believes in having rules and regulations aimed at reforming a prisoner.
After the amendments in 2016, at least two convicts, including gangster Arun Gawli, had challenged the amended rules and were granted parole. According to sources, the proposal has been vetted by the state Law and Judiciary department and a notification will come soon. In August last year, the Maharashtra government drew flak after Sajjad Moghul, convicted for molesting and murdering 25-year-old law professional Pallavi Purkayastha, jumped parole. The state was criticised for having weak rules granting parole to convicts sentenced for committing “serious offences” after which the government amended the norms.
Under the new provisions of the Maharashtra Prisons (Furlough and Parole) (Amendment) Rules, 2016, “regular” parole would be denied to convicts sentenced for offences such as rape or rape with murder, kidnapping for ransom, sexual offences against minor and human trafficking. The government notification states, “All prisoners eligible for furlough shall be eligible for regular parole.”
“Parole and furlough are the rights of the prisoners and are extended to convicts so that they do not lose contact with the civil society. We, therefore, proposed that those convicts against whom the state has not challenged the sentence in a higher court, should be allowed to appeal for a parole or furlough. Denying them regular parole or furlough would amount to violations of his/her rights and can be challenged in court,” said a senior official from the Home department.
“The Prison department was of the view that parole and furlough should be restricted only to those convicted of serious offences of murder, murder with rape and sexual assault of a minor. However those found guilty of rape, dacoity and extortion should be granted regular parole and furlough. The state government has not accepted those recommendations,” a source said.
“The jail superintendent is aware of the background of the convict and is in a better position to decide on an application… so that the applications are disposed of soon,” the source said.