The Supreme Court has reiterated that a convict undergoing imprisonment sentence if released on emergency/interim parole, the said period of parole has to be excluded for the purpose of actual imprisonment subject to any rule/policy in respect of remission.

In a recent judgment authored and pronounced by Justice M.R. Shah of which Justice CT Ravikumar was also a part observed, "the petitioner has been convicted for the offences under Sections 302/34 of IPC and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment, he has to undergo the said sentence actually subject to any rule/policy in respect of remission and the period during which he is released on emergency/interim parole has to be excluded for the purpose of actual imprisonment. Under the circumstances, the petitioner is not entitled to claim any relief prayed in the instant writ petition. Under the circumstances, the present petition lacks merits and the same deserves to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed".

The bench while relying on the judgment of Rohan Dhungat Etc. Vs. The State of Goa & Ors. Etc. (Special Leave Petition (Crl) Nos. 12574-77/2022): (2023 SCC OnLine SC 16) reiterated that if such submissions of adjusting the period of parole towards actual imprisonment are accepted, in that case, any influential prisoner may get parole any number of times and have the said period adjusted, the same may defeat the very object and purpose of actual imprisonment.

Advocate Ritu Kumar appeared for the petitioner while Additional Advocate General Bansuri Swaraj appeared on behalf of the respondent state.

Before the Court was a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India filed by a convict seeking consideration of parole granted during the Covid-19 period to be counted and adjusted towards the part of his actual sentence, as the parole was involuntarily imposed as per the decision taken by a high-powered committee constituted under the Supreme Court's direction in Re: contagion of covid 19 virus in prisons.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner was released on emergency parole pursuant to the decision of HPC and that this Court directed in the subsequent orders that those convicts who were released on emergency parole earlier pursuant to the decision shall not be asked to surrender until further orders.

Emphasizing, that the release of the petitioner was as per the order of this Court and not on any application under Section 3 (3) of the Haryana Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 1988. She further submitted that some other states have directed the period of interim parole to be counted towards the period of conviction and if the petitioner would have not been released on interim parole, he would have been entitled to remission.

The respondent state argued that the convict has been convicted for the offences under Sections 302/34 of IPC and sentenced to undergo life imprisonment. Further, the High-Powered Committee in the minutes of the meeting specifically observed that no specific directions for not counting the period of special parole towards sentence are required to be made in view of statutory provisions and authorities were directed to decide the said issue in accordance with statutory provisions.

The state further submitted that the decision was in consonance with statutory provisions and the decision to not count the period of parole towards the period of actual imprisonment is neither illegal nor contrary to the statutory provisions. They relied on the judgment of Rohan Dhungat (supra), Avtar Singh Vs. State of Haryana (2002) 3 SCC 18 and State of Haryana & Ors. Vs.Mohinder Singh (2000) 3 SCC 394.

The Court noted that "vires of Section 3(3) of the Act, 1988 was challenged before this Court and by judgment and order passed in Avtar Singh (supra), this Court has upheld the vires of Section 3(3) of the Act, 1988." and that "Subsequently, in the case of Mohinder Singh (supra), this Court has specifically observed and held that the period of parole shall not be counted towards the total period of sentence. It is observed and held that when a prisoner is on parole his period of release does not count towards the total period of sentence."

The bench held the period of parole availed by the prisoner cannot be counted as part of the duration of the sentence and referred to the recent judgment which said for purpose of considering actual imprisonment, the period of parole is to be excluded.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title- Anil Kumar v. State of Haryana & Ors.

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