While considering 14 years of imprisonment for premature release, the Supreme Court ruled that the Parole time must be deducted from the period of punishment under the Goa Prison Rules, 2006.
A Bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar ruled that if the parole duration is included as part of the sentencing length, any prisoner with enough clout may be granted parole multiple times. According to the Court, this is contrary to the aim of actual imprisonment.
"If the prisoner's petition that the duration of parole is considered while considering 14 years of incarceration is allowed, many influential offenders may get parole numerous times because there is no distinction and it can be given several times. If the proposition is accepted, it may undermine the whole aim and object of actual imprisonment. We are adamant that the period of parole be eliminated when considering actual imprisonment. We wholeheartedly concur with the High Court's decision. The current SLP is terminated."
The Challenge To A Bombay High Court
The Bench was deliberating on a challenge to a Bombay High Court (Goa Bench) ruling about Rule 335 of the Goa Prison Rules and Section 55 of the Prisons Act, 1894 [Extramural custody, control, and employment of inmates]. The Court has delayed its decision until December 2022.
During that hearing, Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave submitted many arguments as to why the period of parole might be considered part of the sentence under the Rules.
Parole Cannot Be Equated With Remission
"The High Court relies on the Rules in this case to rule that parole cannot be equated with remission. We are not interested in forgiveness, but rather in the punishment itself. Your Lordships may disregard furlough."
"Furlough is a legal privilege, but bail is not. Unless there are special circumstances, such as the gravity of the offense committed, it should normally be given "The Bench stated.
Furlough is a type of release granted in circumstances of long-term incarceration.
Dave then cited the Supreme Court judgment in Sunil Fulchand Shah versus Union Of India And Ors, which said that parole shall be counted as part of the preventative detention period.
"Preventive detention is not a conviction; it is on a different footing," remarked Justice Shah.
"Unlike a bond, parole is for a set length of time," Dave explained.
The Court then distinguished between Parole and Furlough, pointing out that the latter is only available every two years. The Court stated throughout the hearing that parole is based on an application submitted by the accused to obtain some relief.
"Lordships must evaluate the use of bail, parole, and furlough. Bail shifts the form of custody from jail to private custody. It's not going to count... Bail and parole have different connotations.....the nature of detention remains the same in Furlough. The overall custody is the same "Dave had objected.
"Furthermore, there will be no suspension while on parole. That could be the argument, right?" Justice Ravikumar inquired.
Dave responded positively.
"Should a parole period be included, in your opinion? If you do not apply for parole, it will not be considered ", Justice Shah observed, adding that this is standard practice in all states.
If the submission is accepted, many accused persons who are "strong enough" may abuse it, according to the Bench.
"The government has parole authority. As my brother correctly pointed out, it is sometimes permitted for a longer amount of time for medical reasons, because most of the accused associated with politics prefer to stay in hospitals rather than jails. If your submission is accepted, should that time frame be considered? ", Justice Shah inquired.
"Parole is always granted for a set period. A certain time range "Dave tried to protest, but the Court said it would issue a complete order.