The Calcutta High Court has reiterated that parole is "reformative process" and the same cannot be denied to a convict merely on apprehensions that he shall abscond or commit further offences.
"It cannot be disputed that the purpose of release is to make sure that the prisoner as such meets with his family members and the general public. It is a reformative process, whereby a convict is reintroduced to normal life and, thus, by declining the said benefit on an application… would come within the vice of irrationality and perversity, in spite of the settled position of law," observed the Bench of Justice GS Sandhawalia.
The Court further clarified that in terms of Rule 3(2) of Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Rules, 1963, release of a prisoner on parole can be declined only in case his release is likely to "endanger the security of the State" or "the maintenance of public order".
It held that mere 'likelihood of committing a crime' while on parole would not be a sufficient ground to decline temporary release on parole. It said,
"Mere likelihood of committing crime is not to be taken as apprehension of a threat to the security of the State or the maintenance of public order.
The word 'Security of the State' and maintenance of 'public order' is intended to prevent grave public disorder, which is not the same as maintenance of law and order and a distinction had to be made. Every breach of peace does not lead to public disorder and an act which disturbs the even tempo of life of the public at large affects the maintenance of public order."
Reliance was placed on Bansi Lal v. State of Punjab, 2016 (4) RCR (Criminal) 1017.
The observations were made during hearing of a criminal writ petition, challenging the order of the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate, Kapurthala, whereby the Petitioner's case for grant of parole for a period of six weeks was rejected
The Petitioner had been convicted and sentenced for offences under the NDPS Act. He had sought to be released on parole to meet his family and get treatment done of his ailing wife.
The request was denied by the Magistrate, citing apprehensions that the Petitioner may resort to the business of sale of intoxicants as 4 more cases of similar nature under the NDPS Act were pending against him.
Disagreeing with this stance, the Court held that the statutory power to release a prisoner on parole or furlough is to be exercised objectively, keeping in view the intention of the legislature and the purpose of admitting a prisoner to parole or furlough.
It observed that as per Rule 3(2) "It is apparent that the petitioner's case as such does not fall under the two exclusions, whereby there is danger to the security of the State or is prejudicial to the maintenance of public order."
Case Title: Manga v. State of Punjab & Ors.
Case No.: CRWP No. 4593/2020
Quorum: Justice GS Sandhawalia
Appearance: Advocate Prateek Pandit (for Petitioner); Addl. AG Hitten Nehra (for State)
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