Laws in respect of Parole and Furlough in India

Granting of parole and furlough to a convict is a part of the criminal justice system and is an executive function. Over the years with the development of criminal jurisprudence the concepts have developed and are well imbibed at present in the Criminal justice system of India. As such no statute provides a specific definition for the two concepts. However, the terms have been well recognized and developed by various decision of the Honorable Supreme Court.

Historically ‘parole’ is a concept known to military law and denotes release of a prisoner of war on a promise to return. Parole has become an integral part of the English and American systems of criminal justice intertwined with the evolution of changing attitudes of the society towards crime and criminals. Release on parole is a wing of the reformative process and is expected to provide an opportunity to the prisoner to transform himself into a useful citizen. Parole is thus a grant of partial liberty of lessening of restrictions to a convicted prisoner, but released on parole does not change the status of the prisoner. Rules are framed providing supervision by parole authorities of the convicts released on parole and in case of failure to perform the promise, the convict released on parole is directed to surrender to custody– PoonamLata v. M.L Wadhawan 1987.

In Asfaq vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors., 2017 the honourable supreme court defined parole as conditional release of prisoners i.e. an early release of a prisoner, conditional on good behaviour and regular reporting to the authorities for a set period of time. It is a conditional pardon by which the convict is released before the expiration of his term. The parole is granted for good behaviour on the condition that parolee regularly reports to a supervising officer for a specified period. Such a release of the prisoner on parole can also be temporarily on some basic grounds. In that eventuality, it is to be treated as mere suspension of the sentence for time being, keeping the quantum of sentence intact.

Many State Governments have formulated guidelines on parole as part of its jail Manuals, in order to bring out objectivity in the decision making and to decide as to whether parole needs to be granted in a particular case or not. Such a decision in those cases is taken in accordance with the guidelines framed. Guidelines of some of the States stipulate two kinds of paroles, namely, custody parole and regular parole. ‘Custody parole’ is generally granted in emergent circumstances like:

(i) death of a family member;

(ii) marriage of a family member;

(iii) serious illness of a family member; or

(iv) any other emergent circumstances.

As far as ‘regular parole’ is concerned, it may be given in the following cases:

(i) serious illness of a family member;

(ii) critical conditions in the family on account of accident or death of a family member;

(iii) marriage of any member of the family of the convict;

(iv) delivery of a child by the wife of the convict if there is no other family member to take care of the spouse at home;

(v) serious damage to life or property of the family of the convict including damage caused by natural calamities;

(vi) to maintain family and social ties;

(vii) to pursue the filing of a special leave petition before this Court against a judgment delivered by the High Court convicting or upholding the conviction, as the case may be.

Furlough is also an executive action and conditional release. Though it is right of the prisoner, the brief conditional release from the prison is given in case of long term imprisonment.   In-State of Maharashtra & anr. vs. Suresh Pandurang Darvakar (2006) 4 SCC 776 the distinction between parole and furlough was laid down as follows:

(i) Parole can be granted in case of short term imprisonment whereas in furlough it is granted in case of long term imprisonment.

(ii) Duration of parole extends to one month whereas in the case of furlough it extends to fourteen days maximum.

(iii) Parole is granted by Divisional Commissioner and furlough is granted by the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons.

(iv) For parole, specific reason is required, whereas furlough is meant for breaking the monotony of imprisonment.

(vi) The term of imprisonment is not included in the computation of the term of parole, whereas it is vice versa in furlough.

(vii) Parole can be granted the number of times whereas there is a limitation in the case of furlough.

(viii) Since furlough is not granted for any particular reason, it can be denied in the interest of society.

The Constitution Bench in Sunil Fulchand Shah v. Union of India and Ors. 2000 CriLJ1444 considered the distinction between bail and parole in the context of reckoning the period which a detenu has to undergo in prison. Bail and parole have a different connotation in law.

‘Parole’, however, has a different connotation than bail even though the substantial legal effect of both bail and parole may be the release of a person from detention or custody. The dictionary meaning of “parole” is: Released from jail, prison or other confinement after actually serving part of the sentence. Conditional release from imprisonment which entitles parolee to serve the remainder of his term outside confides of an institution if he satisfactorily complies with all terms and conditions provided in parole order. Black Law Dictionary (6th Ed.), a prisoner in a year can avail 90 days of parole, however, he cannot be released on parole for more than 30 days at once.

Thus parole and furlough are parts of the penal and prison system for humanising prison administration but the two have different purposes.

— Advocate Ravindra Vikram, Ph: +91-94100-22521

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