Parole Period Can't Be Included In Period Of Actual Imprisonment : Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that the Parole period has to be excluded from the period of sentence under the Goa Prison Rules, 2006 while considering 14 years of imprisonment for premature release. A Bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar held that if the parole period is included as part of the sentence period, then any prisoner who is influential enough may get parole several times. This is against the purpose of actual imprisonment, the Court said.
"If the submission on behalf of the prisoner is accepted that the period of parole is to be included while considering 14 years of imprisonment is accepted, in that case, any prisoner who is influential, may get parole a number of times as there is no distinction and it can be granted a number of times. If the submission is accepted, it may defeat the very object and purpose of actual imprisonment. We are of the firm view that for the purpose of considering actual imprisonment, the period of parole is to be excluded. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court. Present SLP stands dismissed."
The Bench was considering a challenge against a Bombay High Court (Goa Bench) order relating to Rule 335 of the Goa Prison Rules and Section 55 of the Prisons Act, 1894 [Extramural custody, control, and employment of prisoners]. The Court reserved its judgment in December 2022.
During that hearing, Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave made several arguments on why it's possible to consider the period of parole as part of the sentence under the Rules.
"The High Court, in this case, relies upon the Rules to say that parole cannot be equated to remission. We are not concerned with remission, but with the actual sentence. Your Lordships may disregard Furlough."
"Furlough is a matter of right, bail is not. Normally, it should be granted, unless there are some exceptional circumstances like the gravity of the offense committed, etc", the Bench said.
Furlough is a release given in cases of long-term imprisonment.
Dave then relied on the Supreme Court decision in Sunil Fulchand Shah vs Union Of India And Ors which noted that the period of parole will be considered as part of the preventive detention period.
"Preventive detention is not the conviction, it stands on a different footing', Justice Shah said.
"Parole is for a fixed period, unlike bail", Dave said.
The Court then pointed out the difference between Parole and Furlough - as far as the latter is concerned, one is entitled to it, every two years. Parole, however, is on an application made by the accused to get some relief, the Court said during the hearing.
"Lordships have to consider how bail, parole, and furlough are used. In bail, the nature of custody changes, from jail custody to private custody. It won't count...Bail and Parole have different connotations.....in Furlough, the nature of custody remains the same. Overarching custody is the same", Dave had argued."And there will not be any suspension while being released on parole. Virtually that can be the contention, yes?" Justice Ravikumar asked.
Dave replied in the affirmative.
"According to you, parole period should be included? Don't ask for parole, then it will not be counted", Justice Shah remarked while adding that this is the practice in all states.
If the submission is accepted, many accused persons who are "powerful enough" may misuse it, the Bench had pointed out.
"Parole powers are with the government. As my brother rightly pointed out, sometimes it is granted for a longer period, on medical grounds, because most of the accused affiliated with politics would like to be in hospitals than in jails. If your submission is accepted, then that period should be considered?", Justice Shah had asked."Parole is always for a short period. A fixed period", Dave tried to reason, post which the Court said that it would pass a detailed order.