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No Uniformity in Parole and Furlough Rules- The Hindu Editorial Analysis

No Uniformity in Parole and Furlough Rules UPSC Relevance

No Uniformity in Parole and Furlough Rules: overcrowding in jails is very serious issue in India. No Uniformity in Parole and Furlough Rules is important for UPSC Prelims Exam 2023 and UPSC Mains Exam (Governance and administration and associated issues in India).



No Uniformity in Parole and Furlough Rules in News

  • There was a huge uproar in the media when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a convict serving a 20-year prison sentence for raping two disciples, was seen organising an online ‘satsang’ while on a 40-day parole in October.
  • On the other hand, S. Nalini, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who was serving life imprisonment, was given several extensions of parole from December 2021 until her release.


Legal Provisions Regarding Parole and Furlough

  • The Prisons Act, 1894, and the Prisoners Act, 1900, did not contain any specific provision pertaining to parole and/or furlough.
  • However, Section 59 of the Prisons Act empowers States to make rules inter alia “for the shortening of sentences” and “for rewards for good conduct”.
  • Since “prisons, reformatories…” fall in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, States are well within their reach to legislate on issues related to prisons.


Different States on Parole/leaves and furlough

  • The Uttar Pradesh rules provide for the ‘suspension of sentence’ (without mentioning the term parole or furlough or leave) by the government generally up to one month.
    • However, the period of suspension may exceed even 12 months with prior approval of the Governor.
  • Maharashtra’s rules permit release of a convict on ‘furlough’ for 21 or 28 days (depending upon the term of sentence), on ‘emergency parole’ for 14 days, and on ‘regular parole’ for 45 to 60 days.
  • The recently revised rules of Haryana (April 2022) permit ‘regular parole’ to a convict up to 10 weeks (in two parts), ‘furlough’ for three to four weeks in a calendar year, and ‘emergency parole’ up to four weeks.
    • Ram Rahim is on his regular parole.
  • Though the Tamil Nadu rules of 1982 permit ‘ordinary leave’ for a period of 21 to 40 days, ‘emergency leave’ is permitted up to 15 days (to be spread over four spells).
    • However, in exceptional circumstances, the government may extend the period of emergency leave.
    • Till recently, Nalini was on extended emergency leave owing to her mother’s illness.
  • Andhra Pradesh rules specifically prohibit such extension on account of the continued illness of a relative of a prisoner.
    • They permit ‘furlough’ and parole/emergency leave up to two weeks, except that the government may extend parole/emergency leave in special circumstances.
  • Odisha rules permit ‘furlough’ for up to four weeks, ‘parole leave’ up to 30 days and ‘special leave’ up to 12 days.
  • West Bengal provides for releasing a convict on ‘parole’ for a maximum period of one month and up to five days in case of any ‘emergency’.
  • Kerala provides for 60 days of ‘ordinary leave’ in four spells, and up to 15 days ‘emergency leave’ at a time.


Provision of ‘custody parole’ in Different States

  • In Haryana, a hardcore convict, who is ineligible for any parole or furlough, may be released for attending the funeral or marriage of a close relative under police escort for a period not exceeding six hours.
  • In Tamil Nadu, police escort is given to a prisoner who is released on emergency leave and is dangerous to the community.
  • Similarly, in Kerala, prisoners who are not eligible for emergency leave may be granted permission for visit under police escort for a maximum period of 24 hours.


Difference b/w Furlough, Parole and Leave

  • While ‘furlough’ is considered as an incentive for good conduct in prison and is counted as a sentence served, parole or leave is mostly a suspension of sentence.
  • Emergency parole or leave is granted for specified emergencies such as a death, serious illness or marriage in the family.
  • While most States consider only close relatives such as spouse, parents, son, daughter, brother and sister as close family, Kerala has a long list of more than 24 relatives in case of death and 10 in case of marriage.
  • Though regular parole or leave is granted after serving minimum sentence (varying from one year to four years) in prison, some States include other familial and social obligations such as-
    • Sowing or harvesting of agricultural crops,
    • Essential repair of house, and
    • Settling family disputes.


Dissimilarities Across Various States

  • In Kerala, a convict becomes eligible for ordinary leave after serving one-third of a year in prison if he is sentenced for one year.
  • Haryana has a long list of ‘hardcore’ prisoners who are not entitled to be released except on ‘custody parole’ under certain conditions.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and West Bengal do not permit release of habitual criminals and convicts, who are dangerous to society, under Sections 392 to 402 of the Indian Penal Code. Some States do not impose such conditions.
  • Each State has a different yardstick to punish a prisoner who does not surrender after parole or furlough in time.
  • Haryana punishes such a convict for two-three years of imprisonment along with a fine up to ₹1 lakh if he overstays beyond 10 days.
  • On the other hand, Tamil Nadu merely punishes the convict under prison rules; and Uttar Pradesh records indiscipline and puts restrictions on further ‘suspension of sentence’ depending on overstay.


Need for Some Uniformity

  • Despite the fact that temporary release cannot be availed of as a matter of right, the above provisions demonstrate that each State has its own set of rules which not only vary in scope and content, but may also be flouted to give favours to a few.
  • Without any common legal framework in place to guide the States and check misuse, arbitrariness is likely to creep in, endangering the entire criminal justice system.


  • With ‘prisons’ in the State List, this task is not feasible unless at least half of the States come together to request the Central government to legislate a common law for the country on parole and furlough.

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