The Karnataka High Court has directed the State government to reconsider its decision of not allowing 'emergency parole leave' to prisoners undergoing sentence in default of fine not preceded with substantive sentence.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Nataraj Ramasway said "Prima facie, it appears to us that the exclusion introduced by Clause (n) may not be consistent with the order of the Apex Court, issued under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, prima facie, it appears to us that many of the offences for which sentence in default of fine is not preceded with substantive sentence have nothing to do with the interest of the security of the State. The same may be offences arising out of private transactions or commercial transactions."
The bench gave the direction while hearing a petition filed by Syed Shantaj, M Murthy, C Subbarayan and Syed Mohiddin, through their advocate Shaikh Saoud. It was contended that accused Shantaj and Murthy have been convicted for the offence under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and are undergoing default sentence. Accused Subbaayan and Mohiddin are undergoing default sentence in cases investigated by CBI.
Advocate Soud contended that "By denying parole to the petitioners it actually amounts to contempt of court of the order dated 23-03-2020 passed by the Supreme Court.
It was pointed that the a proviso has been added after Clause (a) of Sub-rule (3) of Rule 191 of the Karnataka Prison Rules, 1974 which carves out an exception by providing for release of prisoners on emergency parole till the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Covid-19 Regulations, 2020 are in force.
An exception has been carved out in case of category of prisoners convicted for the offences which are investigated by NIA/CBI/ED or any Central Agency or under any Economic Offences mentioned in the interest of the security of the State. Clause (n) is in case of prisoners who are undergoing sentence in default of fine not preceded with substantive sentence.
The bench said "It is apparent that the Karnataka Prison (Amendment) Rules, 2000 (for short 'the said Rules of 2000') have been enacted to give effect to the directions of the Apex Court issued on 23rd March 2020. The State could not have given effect to the directions of the Apex Court and the recommendations of the Committee appointed by the Apex Court without amending the Karnataka Prison Rules, 1974."
Thus we direct the State to reconsider the inclusion of Clause (n) as an exception to the proviso incorporated by the Amendment Rules. The State shall reconsider the issue and place its decision on record by 23rd June 2020.
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