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'Sad State Of Prisons' Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Of Jail Superintendent Against Disciplinary Enquiry For Failure To Consider Parole Applications

Mehal Jain
23 Feb 2021 3:07 AM GMT
Sad State Of Prisons Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Of Jail Superintendent Against Disciplinary Enquiry For Failure To Consider Parole Applications

"Those who cannot shell out a pound of flesh have no role to play in jails. This is the sad state of prisons ", commented Justice DY Chandrachud on Monday.

The bench of Justice Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah was considering the plea of a Superintendent of Jail, Aurangabad, Maharashtra opposing the decision of the government to initiate departmental enquiry against him for failure to consider applications for pre-mature parole as required by the Bombay High Court.

The 2 applicants before the High Court were life convicts under 302. The High Court has interpreted the government notification for parole as follows: "This Court has observed that when a prisoner is eligible to get furlough, he has completed three years of jail term and if he is convicted for imprisonment of life, he becomes eligible for consideration of emergency parole under notifcation dated 08.05.2020 and, the jail authority needs to consider all such applications together even when the prisoners have not filed application and the jail authority needs to pass order to the effect as to whether emergency parole can be availed by them or cannot be availed by them"

"But the Superintendent of Jail did not even consider the applications! They consider themselves above the High Court! Even to have their applications considered, the inmates must pay up! Those who cannot shell out a pound of flesh have no benefactors, no protectors in jails! This is the truth! We are happy some High Court judge has stood by and decided to take action", observed Justice Chandrachud, rejecting the petition.
In September last year, a division bench of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court noted that the jail authority is not ready to follow its orders pursuant to the government notification for emergency parole in view of the COVID pandemic and that as many as 130 applications filed for emergency parole are kept pending.Noting the allegation of widespread corruption and demands for bribes, the bench had directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate / Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates of all the districts under its jurisdiction to go to the concerned central jail, open prisons, district prisons or the sub jails to make inquiry with the prisoners.
"They are expected to make inquiry with every prisoner to ascertain as to whether he was informed about his right to get emergency parole under the aforesaid notification. They are to ascertain as to whether the jail authority had refused to accept the application. They are to ascertain as to whether for some gratification, the applications of the prisoners were not accepted. They are to ascertain as to whether any condition which could not have been imposed was imposed to deny the benefit indirectly. They can give a promise to the prisoners to keep their names secret and they can prepare the report on the basis of the inquiry made with the prisoners. If some prisoners are ready to give complaints and have no objection to disclose their names, such complaints be also collected", the bench had ordered.
"The High Court had asked the CJM to enquire. The CJM found that the applications were not considered. The government has assured the High Court that this and hold a disciplinary enquiry. Why should we come in between a disciplinary enquiry ", noted Justice Chandrachud, in dismissing the plea.

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