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Key Takeaways

  • While parole is granted to the prisoner to meet a specific exigency, furlough may be granted after a stipulated number of years have been served without any reason.
  • Furlough not a matter of right.

What is Parole

Parole is a system of releasing a prisoner with a suspension of the sentence. The release is conditional and is mostly dependant on the behaviour of the prisoner. It requires periodic reporting to the authorities for a set period.Parole is a “reformative” method. The provision of providing parole was introduced to humanise the prison system.It is covered under the Prisons Act, 1894. Since prisons fall under the State List within the Constitution, each state has its own rules under which parole is granted to any prisoner.

How does parole work

State Governments have their Prisoner Release on Parole Rules. For example, in Rajasthan, initial parole is granted for 20 days; the second parole is for 30 days, and the third for 40 days. After this, the prisoner can apply for permanent parole. It is granted by the state executive.A report is submitted by the jail authorities to the State Government, and a decision is taken by the competent authority to grant the parole on humanitarian considerations.In case of emergencies, the superintendent of jail can also grant parole up to a period of seven days.

What happens when a parole gets rejected

If a plea for parole is rejected, the convict can move to the High Court challenging the order of the competent authority.Prisoners convicted of multiple murders or under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) are not eligible for parole.

What is Furlough

Furlough is granted to a prisoner who is in long term imprisonment. It is required to be granted intermittently to the prisoner and is considered as his right. It enables the prisoner to maintain his ties within the society. It is considered as a diminution of his sentence. It cannot be rejected.

When can a parole request be rejected

Parole is not seen as a matter of right. It is granted for a particular reason which could be something like a wedding of the blood relative, death of a relative etc. If the competent authority has reason to believe that releasing the prisoner would act against the best interest of society, then they may deny parole.If the jail authorities have reason to believe that the prisoner will flee when released, even then the request may be denied. Lastly, if the prisoner is convicted of a death sentence, then parole may not be granted either.

Difference between Parole and Furlough: State of Gujarat v. Narayana

Brief Facts

The brief facts of the case are:

Ajay Chautala and his father, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, have been imprisoned since 2013. They were convicted for corruption, criminal conspiracy, and forgery in the JBT teachers’ recruitment scam. Ajay Chautala applied for a furlough approximately 10 days earlier. This was the second time this year that he had sought furlough. He was released earlier in June so that he could appear for an examination in Sirsa.

Before that, Ajay Chautala was released on April 15, on 21-day parole. The JJP had entered an electoral alliance with the AAP for the Lok Sabha elections in Haryana, and Ajay Chautala campaigned extensively for the two parties.

In recent months, Ajay Chautala has approached the Delhi High Court twice seeking parole. He first sought parole for an examination beginning July 15, but his plea was dismissed. In October, Ajay Chautala went back to the High Court seeking parole. That petition remains pending.

This brought up the need for clarification on the difference. Although seemingly similar, there exists a contrast between parole and furlough. This difference has been highlighted by the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Narayana.

Observations

The Bench in the present case while interpreting the Bombay Furlough and Parole Rules, made according to Section 59 of the Prisons Act 1894, noticed that the same does not confer a legal right on a prisoner to be released on furlough.

“The grant of furlough is regulated by Rule 3 and Rule 4. While Rule 3 provides the eligibility criteria for grant of furlough for prisoners serving different lengths of imprisonment, Rule 4 imposes limitations. The use of the expression “may be released” in Rule 3 indicates the absence of an absolute right. This is further emphasised in Rule 17 which states that said Rules do not confer a legal right on a prisoner to claim release on furlough. Thus, the grant of release on furlough is a discretionary remedy circumscribed by Rules 3 and 4 extracted above.”

Judgement

The principles laid down by the Court are:

  1. Furlough and parole envisage a short-term temporary release from custody.
  2. While parole is granted for the prisoner to meet a specific exigency, furlough may be granted after a stipulated number of years have been served without any reason.
  3. The grant of furlough is to break the monotony of imprisonment and to enable the convict to maintain continuity with family life and integration with society.
  4. Although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough.
  5. The grant of furlough must be balanced against the public interest and can be refused to certain categories of prisoners.

The Court further noted that the Jail Superintendent has given a negative opinion since the respondent kept a mobile phone inside,and attempted to make contacts with the outside world.

Case Laws

Other important cases which highlight the difference between furlough and parole are:

1. State of Maharashtra v. Suresh Pandurang Darvakar, (2006) 4 SCC 776

While both parole and furlough are temporary releases from confinement, parole is granted only for a specific purpose. A prisoner is entitled to apply for furlough once he has served the minimum years of sentence as stipulated in Rule 3.

The “furlough” and “parole” have two different purposes. It is not necessary to state the reasons while releasing the prisoner on furlough, but in the case of parole, reasons are to be indicated in terms of Rule 19. But release on furlough cannot be said to be an absolute right of the prisoner as culled out from Rule 17. It is subject to the conditions mentioned in Rules 4(4) and 6. Furlough is allowed periodically under Rule 3 irrespective of any reason merely with a view to enabling the prisoner to have a family association, family, and social ties and to avoid the ill-effect of continuous prison life. The period of furlough is treated as a period spent in prison. But Rule 20 shows that period spent on parole is not to be counted as remission of sentence. Since the furlough is granted for no reason, it can be denied in the interest of society, whereas parole is to be granted only on sufficient cause being shown.

2. Asfaq v. the State of Rajasthan, (2017) 15 SCC 55

A parole can be defined 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. It can also be defined as a form of conditional pardon by which the convict is released before the expiration of his term. Thus, parole is granted for good behaviour on the condition that the 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. Release on parole is designed to afford some relief to the prisoners in certain specified exigencies.

Furlough, on the other hand, is a brief release from prison. It is conditional and is given in case of long-term imprisonment. The period of sentence spent on furlough by the prisoners need not be undergone by him as is done in the case of parole. Furlough is granted as a good conduct remission.

Key differences highlighted in the judgment are:

Both parole and furlough are conditional releases.Parole can be granted in case of short-term imprisonment whereas in furlough it is granted in case of long-term imprisonment. Duration of parole extends to one month whereas in the case of furlough it extends to fourteen days maximum.Parole is granted by Divisional Commissioner and furlough is granted by the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons.For parole, a specific reason is required, whereas furlough is meant for breaking the monotony of imprisonment.The term of imprisonment is not included in the computation of the term of parole, whereas it is vice versa in furlough.

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

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

3. State of Haryana v. Mohinder Singh, (2000) 3 SCC 394

“… when a prisoner is on parole his period of release does not count towards the total period of sentence, however, while when he is on furlough, he is eligible to have the period of release counted towards the total period of his sentence undergone by him.”

Conclusion

Often cross referred, the difference between parole and furlough has been sufficiently discussed in the judgement. This leaves less room for any error or confusion to be made with respect to the subject matter. Dependency is placed on not only this case law but also the other aforementioned case laws. The major difference that has come up is that while parole is granted for the prisoner to meet a specific exigency, furlough may be granted after a stipulated number of years have been served without any reason.


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