The ins and outs of furlough

Furlough is leave from prison that every convict is entitled to by way of right.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Mumbai | Updated: January 9, 2015 1:41:16 am
Sanjay Dutt, furlough, Yerwada  jail Actor Sanjay Dutt with his family in Bandra. (Source: Express Photo By Prashant Nadkar)

Actor Sanjay Dutt has sought an extension of his 14-day furlough, which ended on Thursday. Mayura Janwalkar explains how the system works

What is furlough?

Furlough is leave from prison that every convict is entitled to by way of right. A prisoner is entitled to be released on furlough for 14 days in a year. However, he may seek a 14-day extension by citing reasons for it. For this, the prisoner has to submit an application to the prison superintendent. The 14-day leave from prison is treated as a “reward” and is accounted for as a part of the prisoner’s jail sentence.

What is the controversy surrounding Sanjay Dutt’s furlough?

The actor was released on a 14-day leave of furlough by Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail authorities on December 24 last year. Dutt was previously granted leave in October 2013 for 28 days on health grounds, followed by a leave in December 2013 to tend to his wife who, he said, was unwell. The number of times Dutt has left jail has led to allegations that he was being given preferential treatment.

Is Sanjay Dutt entitled to be released on furlough?

Every prisoner is entitled to be released on furlough. However, jail authorities may use their discretion in disallowing furlough applications made by those convicted for rape, dacoity or offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS). A prisoner’s conduct is also reviewed before granting him furlough. Usually, a relative of the prisoner is made to stand surety for him. If the jail authorities apprehend that a prisoner may be a threat to society or is likely to abscond, they may turn down his application. He can then approach the court.

Who sanctions a prisoner’s furlough?

Prison being a subject of the state administration, furlough rules differ from state to state. According to the prison manual in Maharashtra, the sanctioning authority is the Deputy Inspector General (Prisons). Depending on the reasons cited by the prisoner, a sanctioning authority may or may not extend his furlough. According to a Bombay High Court judgment of 2008, an application for furlough has to be decided by the authorities in 45 days of receiving it.

How is it different from parole?

While furlough is a prisoner’s right, the prison authorities grant parole to a prisoner based completely on their discretion. It is usually granted in cases of an emergency like a death in the prisoner’s family or illness of a family member. Prisoners also seek parole for weddings or to attend to financial or land-related matters in the family. At a time, a prisoner can avail 30 days of parole. In a year, a prisoner can avail 90 days of parole. However, he cannot be released on parole for more than 30 days at once.

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