The Rajasthan High Court recently upheld the classification of convicts, for the purposes of granting parole, on the basis of the nature and gravity of offenses committed by them.
Brief Facts of the Case
Decongestion of prisons has been a prime concern of the police forces in recent years. Due to a large number of prisoners, the prison infrastructure is already under pressure. So to meet the requirements paroles and conjugal leaves are granted to prisoners in order to decongest the prisons. In this order, the Rajasthan HC classified convicts, for granting parole, on the basis of the gravity of offenses committed by them.
The Petitioners had contended that the rule is ultra vires the Constitution, as it gives special parole to only a certain category of prisoners.
It very important to decongest prisons, as the prison system is already under a lot of duress adding to the risk of COVID 19. One of the other reasons mentioned was for the reintegration of prisoners back into society especially those who were convicted of less serious crimes.
However, earlier the Court held that no ground for interference is made out. It may be noted that pursuant to the recommendations made by the High Power Committee, formed in each state as per directions issued by the Supreme Court in In Re: Contagion Of COVID 19 Virus In Prisons, the trend has been to release prisoners who have been convicted for offenses that are punishable with not more than 7 years imprisonment.
Last week, the Bombay HC also dismissed a petition challenging the classification of prisoners by the High-Power Committee. The challenge was the for release on temporary bail and parole.
The division bench comprised by Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Narendra Singh made an observation. They observed that special parole can be granted to certain categories of prisoners and if the benefit is not given to those who have been convicted for offenses affecting the State and for grave offenses, such rider cannot be said to be unconstitutional.
Further an observation was made in a writ petition seeking to quash Rule 10-B of the Rajasthan Prisoners Release on Parole (Amendment) Rules, 2020. The provision was inserted by the Government to decongest prisons, in view of the impending threat of Covid-19.
As per this Rule, parole may be granted to a category of prisoners in a bid to decongest prisons. Except, those who have been convicted for offenses heinous in nature i.e.
-Rape (Section 375)
-Dacoity (Section 391)
– Section 4 or 6 of the POCSO Act
-Prevention of Money Laundering Act
– Anti-national activities
-Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act) or Offenses of similar nature or the cases investigated by any Central Investigating Agency is included as well.
The Rajasthan High Court upheld the classification of convicts, for the purposes of granting parole. This was done on the basis of the nature and gravity of offenses committed by them.
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