Three murder convicts serving life imprisonment at Harsul Central Prison in Aurangabad were granted 45-day emergency parole by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday in view of decongesting jails amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Laying down conditions of the parole, the court said, the convicts would have to remain confined to their homes for the 45 days and “avoid roaming around” in the interest of their own health as well as that of the society.
A division bench of Justices Ravindra V Ghuge and B U Debadwar issued the directions while hearing criminal applications filed by the three convicts, through advocates Rohit Patwardhan and Satej Jadhav, seeking emergency parole in view of Covid-19 pandemic as per the amended Section 19 (1) (c) of the Maharashtra Prisons (Mumbai Furlough and Parole) Rules.
On August 8, the superintendent of Harsul Central Prison had rejected their parole pleas citing that the convicts had not availed of parole or furlough leave on two occasions prior to making applications. Advocate K S Patil, appearing for the state government, also submitted that orders of jail authorities were just, proper and well-reasoned, and therefore, not required to be interfered with by the court.
Perusing the details produced by the prison authorities, the bench, however, noted 300 convicts had been released on emergency parole from Harsul prison, but with the inclusion of new inmates, the number of prisoners at the jail had gone up to 1,351.
Referring to the May 8 circular issued by the state government, introducing a new parole rule in view of the pandemic to decongest jails, the court clarified its earlier decisions to reject emergency parole applications of inmates lodged in open prisons. “The decisions would indicate that where the number of inmates is few and prison authorities are taking due care of prisoners, we have rejected pleas for emergency parole since the intent of the circular was not to empty the prisons, but decongest the prisons,” it observed.
Referring to recent decisions, the bench further said the condition that a prisoner must have availed of furlough or parole leave on at least two occasions prior to filing the application “would not be an impediment for granting emergency parole to present applicants”.
The court allowed the three convicts to be released on emergency parole on September 25 for a period of 45 days. Disposing of the pleas, HC added, “Since Covid-19 pandemic has spread and the number of patients is increasing, these applicants would confine themselves to their homes and would avoid roaming around in the interest of their own health as well as the interest of the society.”
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