Justice Mukta Gupta heard the cases of Sanjay Kumar Valmiki v State and Chandra Kant Jha v. State of NCT of Delhi. There was a relation between both cases. This is because they were talking about the same question of law relating to the grant of furlough. The court held that upon issuance of special directions to not award remissions in the sentence period, it cannot grant furlough.
Brief Facts of the Case
The case has two petitions, which dealt with a common question of law clubbed together. The court convicted the first petitioner for murder and sexual assault of a child. He got life imprisonment for a period of 25 years without remission. The court convicted the second petitioner for murder as well.
He was to serve rigorous imprisonment for life with the special direction of no remission for the rest of his life. The only exception was powers under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution of India. The issue in both petitions is whether a convict sentenced life has a right to furlough during the period while undergoing the sentence. This is with the stipulation that no remission would be granted for a particular period or the rest of the life.
Delhi High Court’s Observations
The Court reiterated the differences between parole and furlough. This was in respect of the standing decisions as well as the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018. For clarity, a furlough period is within the term of sentence. Hence, the period for which a furlough is granted need not be undergone in the prison. Whereas, a parole period is a period of absence. It is not included in the term of sentence awarded.
The Court observed that a multiplicity of judgments have enumerated the three kinds of remissions. The first one is under Article 72 and 161 of the Constitution. It is to be exercisable by the President and Governor of the State. The President and Governor have the power to suspend, remit and commute the sentences. This can also happen in a situation where the court has awarded the death sentence and confirmed. Also, this power remains unaffected even by a judgment of a Court prescribing sentence of life without remission.
The two other kinds of remissions available to a prisoner are one under Section 432 Cr.P.C. and the other earned by a prisoner under the Prison Rules. These are for good behaviour and/or other stipulations prescribed in the Prison Rules of each state.
Opinions of the Court on reformative approach
On the aspect of the reformative approach, which the courts need to take to ensure the reformation prisoner into a meaningful citizen. The court further explained that the remedy of parole is still available to them, including to re-establish family ties.
It stated that a category of convicts with a specific direction in the sentence is not entitled to furloughs. Thus, it is not a non-reformative approach.
Further, the Court explained that a reformative approach has been adopted in the punishment sentence period. This is owing to the Section 302 of IPC that awards death or 14 years of imprisonment for the offence of murder. When Courts face the dilemma of 14 years being inadequate and death being excessive, the Court pronounces a sentence period of 30 or 40 years. The basis for the term is the gravity of the crime. Such an interpretation serves the purpose of reformative approach to a prisoner.
The Court held that no furlough could be granted because remission by way of parole was available to the convicts. Hence, the cases were disposed of.
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