By Naziya Alvi Rahman
It's final. Anyone convicted for rape, murder, any section of Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, dacoity or kidnapping will not be eligible for "regular" parole in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The changes have been made to the parole and furlough rules in the wake of the flak that the home department received after rapist Sajad Mogul jumped parole earlier this year. Despite Maharashtra police's best effort, Mogul has not been traced till date. Earlier, rape convicts in Maharashtra were barred from availing furlough.
The changes were sent for notification late on Friday evening after Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis gave his nod to the proposal. These convicts, however, will be eligible for "emergency" parole, which will be granted only under three circumstances, death of father, mother, spouse, son, daughter, brother or sister; serious illness of father, mother, spouse, son or daughter; and marriage of son, daughter, brother or sister.
The emergency parole will be granted for a maximum of seven days at the time of confirmation of the emergency. This parole will not see any extension under any circumstance. The department has also increased the surety amount from a minimum of $74.65 (Rs 5,000) to $223 (Rs 15,000).
In a first, the department has categorised parole into two, emergency and regular, for which strict eligibility criteria has been set. Even for regular parole, the criteria have been divided into three categories, for average sentence of up to five years, for up to 14 years and exceeding 14 years.
Parole can be granted for 45 days, extendable up to 60 days in all three categories. But the duration of jail term after which a convict becomes eligible to avail the parole varies under all three categories. The new rule book has also revised the duration after which a prisoner will become eligible for applying for the parole the second time.
The revised manual will make regional DIG the competent authority for grant of furlough, whereas the parole will be sanctioned by the divisional commissioner in whose jurisdiction the prison falls. For emergency parole, however, the superintendent of jail will continue to be the competent authority. He will also be responsible for deciding if the convict needs to be escorted or not.
The revised manual has also restricted the grant of furlough to up to 21 days, without any extension. At present, there is a blanket rule of giving a convict a 14-day furlough, which can be extended by 14 days in case of an emergency.
Meanwhile, sources claimed that the final draft dropped the recommendation to make changes in the competent authority for granting furlough and parole. The department will continue to follow the set rule, wherein the divisional commissioner grants or refuses parole and the state government is the appellant authority.
(WION, this article first appeared on DNA)