PRISONERS IN Maharashtra removed from the remission system for early release will now have a chance at being readmitted into the system following a new circular issued by the prison administration recently.
Remission means shortening of a convict’s sentence for early release, as per the prison manual. Each convict — except those on death row — is entitled for remission as per the Maharashtra Prisons (Remission) Rules, 1962. The rules also state forfeiture of remission for various reasons, including returning late to prison from furlough and parole, which are leave and emergency leave, respectively.
According to the circular, guidelines have been issued to re-admit such convicts again into the remission system. These guidelines include that the prisoner should serve at least 70 per cent of the period that she spent outside without authority, overstaying the granted leave period for furlough or parole. Action will be initiated against such a person for not returning to prison on time under Section 224 of the IPC for resistance or obstruction to lawful apprehension.
The guidelines added that the prisoner, while outside, should not have committed any other offence. If the person is granted parole or furlough again, she should return on time at the end of the leave period. The person should also not have against her any charge for established prison offences or indiscipline. The last guideline stated that if the convict is working in prison, she should continuously earn through the work for at least three months since her return to prison.
Special Inspector General of Prisons (South region) Rajvardhan confirmed that such guidelines have been issued. An official said the guidelines were issued to remove the discretionary powers that prison authorities exercise while deciding remission.
Earlier, the prison manual suggested forfeiture of remission on various grounds, including if the prisoner committed certain offences after being admitted to prison, including rioting. The forfeiture of remission is also a means of punishment for breaches, including established prison offences such as tampering with prison walls, bars and locks among others, escaping or attempting to escape, smuggling and assault apart from late returnees from parole and furlough.
“It is recommended that prisoners returning late should not be considered under this category and the competent authority should ascertain the reason for them returning late and should take disciplinary action and ensure that they continue to be eligible for all the benefits of parole, furlough, remission and transfer to open prisons,” the prison reforms committee constituted by the Bombay High Court had said in its recommendations earlier this year. According to the Maharashtra Prisons (Remission) Rules, 1962, there are four types of remission — ordinary, annual good conduct, special and state remission — the total of which cannot exceed one third of the sentence granted to a convict.