Parole and furlough are parts of the penal and prison system for humanising prison administration but the two have different purposes. Furlough is a matter of right but parole is not. Furlough is to be granted to the prisoner periodically irrespective of any particular reason merely to enable him to retain family and social ties and avoid ill-effects of continuous prison life. The period of furlough is treated as remission of sentence, that is it is considered as a part of the prison term.
Release on furlough cannot be said to be an absolute right of the prisoner. In 2013, The Bombay High Court refused to grant furlough to a convicted kidnapper and rapist, saying such people should not claim to mingle with society.
The court noted that “prisoners, whose conviction is for such offences, which affect larger public interest and public good so also public peace, then, they cannot claim to mingle with the society as a matter of right”.
Maharashtra State Home Department’s rule specifies that those who have been convicted for offences of dacoity, terrorism, kidnapping, smuggling and foreigner prisoners would not be entitled to furlough as a matter of right.
Furlough is leave from prison that every convict is entitled to by way of right. A prisoner is entitled to be released on furlough for 14 days in a year. However, he may seek a 14-day extension by citing reasons for it. For this, the prisoner has to submit an application to the prison superintendent.
Prison being a subject of the state administration, furlough rules differ from state to state. According to the prison manual in Maharashtra, the sanctioning authority is the Deputy Inspector General (Prisons). Depending on the reasons cited by the prisoner, a sanctioning authority may or may not extend his furlough.
While furlough is almost a prisoner’s right, the prison authorities grant parole to a prisoner based completely on their discretion. It is usually granted in cases of an emergency like a death in the prisoner’s family or illness of a family member. Prisoners also seek parole for weddings or to attend to financial or land-related matters in the family. At a time, a prisoner can avail 30 days of parole. In a year, a prisoner can avail 90 days of parole. However, he cannot be released on parole for more than 30 days at a time.
*Manu Sharma who is undergoing a life term in the Jessica Lall murder case of 1999 got married in a low-key ceremony in Chandigarh last week.Manu Sharma was on “furlough” when he married.