Considering the notification granting emergency Covid-19 parole (temporary release of a prisoner before the expiry of a sentence) to prisoners has been withdrawn, the prisoners can no longer seek parole citing the same.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by one Sachin Gabrel, 32, challenging the cancellation of his emergency parole under Rule 19(1)(C) of the Maharashtra Prisons (Mumbai Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rule 19(1)(C) was introduced to release prisoners on emergency parole to reduce the overcrowding in the prison to prevent the spread of the virus. However, the Rule 19 was amended once again which said the inmates would no longer be eligible to be freed on emergency parole because of COVID-19.
Gabrel was released on emergency Covid parole in July 2021. While out on parole, an offence was registered against him in August 2021 following which his parole was cancelled.
He challenged the same before the HC stating that the Rule for emergency parole existed at the time of filing of the petition and hence it could not have been cancelled.
The prosecution contended that he could not claim to be released on parole as a matter of right. Also, the privilege conferred on the prisoners during the pandemic was no longer available in view of the amended rule, which did not provide any such privilege.
The court noted: “It is a well-settled principle of law that the grant of parole is not a matter of right. The parole can be granted only when there is a specific reason available to the prisoner.”
Under the newly amended law, prisoners can be granted parole on the ground of death, marriage, serious illness, delivery of wife and natural calamities.
“…it is clear that the prisoner is not entitled to be released on emergency parole on the ground of the Covid-19 pandemic,” noted the HC.
Dismissing Gabrel’s petition, the HC said: “The privilege of emergency parole on the ground of subsistence of Covid-19 pandemic will not be available to a prisoner as the very basis of conferring privilege on a Prisoner has been extinguished.”