With convict Sajjad Moghul still at large after jumping parole in March this year, the Maharashtra prisons department is contemplating the possibility of microchipping convicts granted parole in a move to curtail similar incidents. This means a tiny Global Positioning System-enabled device will be implanted under the convicts’ skin to monitor their movement.
“The plan is in a nascent stage and a lot of deliberations are being made to study the feasibility. Most jails in western countries follow this system,” a senior official from the prisons department told The Indian Express.
“Even if a convict manages to get rid of the chip, remove it and throw it away before fleeing, we would still be able to get some leads on his/her last movement, which would be helpful in tracking him or her down,” the official explained.
Sources said budgeting would be the main consideration when the proposal is studied by the state government. “Roughly, it will cost us around Rs 15,000 to 20,000 to fit each chip. If the state government is ready to bear the cost then we would implement the same,” the official added.
Madhya Pradesh too is learnt to be working on a similar proposal. “Madhya Pradesh is also contemplating use of GPS trackers to deter convicts from escaping when they are taken out of jails… The GPS tracker is supposed to be tied to the wrist, and an alarm goes off if the convict travels beyond a set limit,” another official said.
Meanwhile, the prisons department has proposed not to grant parole to convicts in rape and murder cases. “In the past, we have granted parole to convicts serving sentence for rape with murder, but after the Moghul episode we have decided not to grant such convicts parole,” said another official. “However, if there is a death in the family or a medical emergency, such convicts might be granted a week-long parole. But a police escort team will be present with him all the time until he returns to the jail.”
The changes being planned by the department in the aftermath of Moghul jumping parole will be soon presented before the state government for final decisions. The department also plans to grant only a one-time parole of 45 days to a prisoner, and the decision to grant parole will be vetted by an officer of the rank of inspector general and above as opposed to the current system where the superintendent of police concerned is the authority on giving clearance to parole applications.
Moghul, who was convicted in 2014 by a city sessions court that held him guilty of molesting and murdering 25-year-old law professional Pallavi Purkayastha, was granted parole in February this year. He was supposed to report back to the Nashik jail on March 26 but did not. Instead, he sought an extension, which was rejected by the local divisional commissioner. In April this year, after Moghul failed to return, the Nashik jail lodged a complaint with the local police.
Following the case, the state government decided to re-look at the present rules pertaining to furlough and parole.