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Prisoners Should Be Provided With A Chance To Maintain Semblance Of Normalcy And Reestablish Connections, And The Provision Of Furlough Serves To Fulfil This Very Objective: New Delhi High Court

Ifrah Murtaza ,
  13 May 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble High Court of New Delhi
Brief :

Citation :
W.P. (CRL) 3063/2023

Case title:

Ashok Kumar v. State of NCT of Delhi

Date of Order:

25.04.2024

Bench: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma

Parties:

Petitioner: Ashok Kumar

Respondent: State of NCT of Delhi

SUBJECT:

The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi (hereinafter referred to as the ‘High Court’ or ‘HC’) dealt with a writ petition filed by an individual convicted of offenses under IPC and POCSO seeking furlough. His initial application was rejected on the basis of the seriousness of the offenses. The petitioner argued that his satisfactory conduct during his nearly a decade-old imprisonment sentence served warrants his release to reward his rehabilitative and reformation efforts. The High Court granted him furlough release for 3-weeks subject to certain conditions in an attempt to maintain an equilibrium between punishment and opportunities for social reintegration. 

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Constitution of India, 1950:

  • Article 226

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:

  • Section 482

The Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Section 376

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO):

  • Section 6

The Delhi Prison Rules, 2018: 

  • Rule 1222
  • Rule 1200
  • Rule 1221
  • Rule 1223

OVERVIEW:

  • The petitioner was convicted for offences under section 367(2) of the IPC and Section 6 of POCSO in Delhi and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment (RI) for life offences under both sections. 
  • While his conviction was upheld by the court in CRL. A. 715/2017, his sentence was modified to RI for life for only the offence under section 376(2) of IPC. 
  • The petitioner had applied for the first spell of furlough for 3 weeks to the Director General, Prisons, but the application was rejected on the basis of the nature of the crime committed by him and the adverse police report vide order dated 04.09.2023.
  • The instant petition has been filed contesting the rejection of the furlough application to seek relief. 

ISSUES RAISED:

  • Whether the petitioner is eligible for a furlough release?
  • Whether the petitioner’s release on furlough possesses a threat to public safety?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER:

  • The petitioner is fully eligible for furlough according to the Delhi Prison Rules 1220, 1221, 1222, and 1223 as he has already served approximately 10 years in prison and has earned 3 annual good conduct reports. 
  • The rejection defeats the purpose of the petitioner’s reformation and rehabilitation as furlough is necessary for maintaining social ties and facilitating a successful reintegration into society. 
  • The rejection order lacks due consideration since the petitioner’s positive behaviour and work in jail were overlooked. 
  • It was highlighted that the petitioner had been provided with emergency parole twice before and he complied with the parole conditions and surrendered on time without abusing the liberty granted. 
  • Given the prolonged duration of the petitioner’s imprisonment, he should be granted furlough on humanitarian grounds. 

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:

  • The heinousness of the offence committed by the petitioner justifies the rejection of the furlough. The nature of the crime is too severe to warrant a release. 
  • Given the seriousness of the crime, releasing the petitioner would put public safety of risk as the potential harm posed by the release of the petitioner on furlough outweighs the arguments for rehabilitation or reintegration. 

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS;

  • The High Court acknowledged the gravity of the nature of crime and reviewed the rejection order dated 04.09.2023. 
  • Observing the petitioner’s positive conduct in jail, HC opined that the petitioner had displayed satisfactory behaviour and recognized the petitioner’s efforts towards reformation. 
  • The High Court reiterated the purpose of the furlough, highlighting its role in maintaining familial and social ties, promoting rehabilitation, and supporting the emotional well-being of convicts. 
  • Upon examining the Delhi Prison Rules, HC observed that the objectives of releasing a prisoner on furlough is outlined in Rule 1200, while rule 1223 lays down the eligibility criteria for furlough. 
  • HC opined that it was essential to strike a balance between punishment and rehabilitation within the criminal justice system. 
  • HC recognized the petitioner’s eligibility under the prison rules. 
  • Subsequently, the petitioner was granted release on the first spell of furlough for a period of 3 weeks. 

CONCLUSION

Taking into consideration the petitioner’s satisfactory conduct in jail and his eligibility for release on furlough as per the Delhi Prison Rules, the High Court granted the petitioner release on furlough for a period of 3 weeks. The High Court laid emphasis on the need to strike a balance between the punishment and opportunities for rehabilitation. The petitioner was released for 3 weeks on furlough subject to certain conditions to ensure public safety and petitioner’s compliance with the law. Directives were laid for a copy of the instant judgment to be sent to the Registry to the Jail Superintendent. The writ petition stood disposed of.

 
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