In a move that is likely to help prisoners get a better chance at obtaining parole,the state government has issued orders to senior police officials to provide objective reports on prisoners seeking parole.
The state has said the reports should not be furnished barely on the basis of apprehension that the prisoner may commit an offence while on parole but his or her past record and behaviour during earlier parole or furlough release should also be taken into consideration.
It is necessary that the district superintendent of police,as well as district magistrate,be directed to furnish objective reports as regards parole/ furlough after taking into account the past record of the prisoner,namely,his earlier release and offences,if any,reported against him,during the period of release. The report ought not be furnished barely on the basis of apprehension or possibility of his commission of offence, the home ministry has stated in the order.
The new order has been issued after the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court severely castigated the state government on arbitrarily turning down parole requests of prisoners without applying their mind.
In October 2012,the court had passed an order in the case of Vitthal Patil,a prisoner of the open district prison in Paithan,Aurangabad. Patil had been granted furlough by the DIG (Prisons),Aurangabad.
Patil,a resident of Alibaug,had subsequently applied for extension of his furlough for which a fresh
report was called from the authorities for considering the extension.
The then additional district magistrate,Alibagh,Dr Jagannath Virkar,had forwarded an adverse report on the extension claiming that there was fear that the prisoner may commit an offence while on parole.
The extension request was subsequently refused by the DIG (Prisons).
The case had finally reached the court and it was found that the petitioner had served the major part of the sentence and had availed parole on a number of occasions.
In its verdict,the
Aurangabad Bench,in October 2012,had noted that expressing an apprehension that the prisoner is likely to commit offence without checking his history was not a proper thing to do.
Expressing an apprehension that the prisoner is likely to commit offence is an expression based on fiction and,therefore,it is strange,shocking and exhibits total lack of application of mind by the officer, the order stated.
The High Court had also recorded grave dissatisfaction over the manner in which Virkar had signed the report without reading it and had said an adverse note should be made in Virkars service record book.
An adverse note should be taken in the personal service record of the additional district magistrate,Alibagh,concerned as an act of indifferent behaviour,lack of application of mind and apathy towards human rights, the court had said.
Virkar had meanwhile filed an application and claimed that his posting at Alibagh was his first and it was his first occasion to deal with a case of present nature.
In its verdict on July 19,2013,the court dropped the charges against Virkar.
It,however,asked the principal secretary of home department to issue a necessary circular to all superintendents of police,district magistrates and additional DMs to provide objective reports on paroles and furloughs of prisoners.
Parole is granted by the divisional commissioner in the event of family emergencies. Furlough is 14-day leave granted by the regional DIGs once in two years for the first seven years,followed by once a year for convicts facing life imprisonment.