“When a detainee seeks parole or custody parole to perform some rituals to be performed on his part towards his family, the concerned authority should immediately take appropriate decision for grant of parole/custody parole.”
While considering a plea of a murder convict who could not perform last rites and rituals of his father as he was denied parole, the Uttarakhand High Court has observed that when a detainee seeks parole or custody parole to perform ‘last rituals’, it should not be denied.
Rajkumar, a murder convict, was not allowed by the authorities to attend the last rites of his father. Later, being the eldest son who had to perform rituals of Terahveen of his father, he sought custody parole, which was also rejected by the District Magistrate. Yet another application was filed and even though the jail authorities gave a favourable report, the DM did not take a decision on it.
He sent a petition to the high court narrating all these incidents and prayed to protect the rights of all detainees, in future, so that no detainee is debarred from attending the last rites of his parents, siblings, spouse and children and also their ritual functions.
Explaining the importance of conducting last rites and other rituals, Justice VK Bist said: “According to Hindu law, it is a pious duty of a son to give funeral fire to his parents and perform last rituals of his parents. If a son is deprived of this right, the mental agony suffered by him can nowhere be expressed in words. In Hindu religion, the eldest son is given this right to give funeral fire to his parents. Terahveen ceremony has an important role in Hindu religion. On that day, the departed soul is remembered by the family members as well as by relatives. The concept of Terhaveen performed on 13th day is based on the concept that the departed soul travel from this world and leave to meet his/ her maker (God) after completing thirteenth stoppage at different places to complete the journey. After death, rituals are not only done by Hindu relatives but are also performed by all near and dear of deceased, belonging to all other religions, be it, Muslim, Christian, Sikh & others. Son of a deceased person has a right to perform last rites of his parents. Hindu religion is not mere a religion but a way of living in a scientific manner.”
Condemning the ‘inhumane’ conduct of the District Magistrate, the court directed: “When a detainee seeks parole or custody parole to perform some rituals to be performed on his part towards his family, the concerned authority should immediately take appropriate decision for grant of parole/custody parole, depending on the facts of the case. While doing so the competent authority may impose reasonable restrictions and ensure that the detainee may not flee away from the clutches of the law. But in such a situation, the parole or custody parole should not be denied. The approach of authority or authority concerned in this regard should be liberal and akin to the situation and not inhumane and arbitrary.”
Taking note of the agony suffered by the prisoner, the bench directed the authorities to pay Rs. 1 lakh as compensation to him. It also ‘appreciated’ the concern shown by him for other detainees. The court added: “The mental agony expressed by the petitioner by way of the present writ petition cannot be expressed in words. The petitioner, who has suffered such a mental agony, cannot be compensated in any manner. The petitioner cannot go back in time and perform the pious duty he was supposed to perform for his father.”
The court also directed all the District Magistrates that applications seeking parole or custody parole to a convict shall be decided on a priority basis, before it is rendered infructuous, so that the purpose of the application can be achieved.