Parole v. Furlough
I was just reading in the newspaper the other day that Sanjay Dutt has been granted 2 leaves of furlough and allowed parole 3 times since he went to jail on 18th May, 2013? Is this legal--as in, is there a maximum number of times one can be eligible for either? What is the difference between Furlough and Parole? Have other famous persons who've gone to jail also enjoyed such a privilege?
Parole and furlough are parts of the prison system both intended to humanise 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. But Furlough is not an absolute right of a prisoner. The grant of furlough would depend on the terms and circumstances of imprisonment, and the relevant rules made by the state government in this regard. For example, if the imprisonment is for a heinous crime such as rape, the courts have held that such convicts cannot claim to mingle with the society as a matter of right. Parole, on the other hand, is not a matter of right and may be denied to a prisoner even if he makes out a sufficient case for release on parole if the competent authority is satisfied on valid grounds that release of a prisoner on parole would be against the interest of society or the prison administration. While Furlough is counted as period spent in prison, Parole isn’t. Generally a designated authority such as a Parole Board is established, to which application for Parole has to be submitted. Such authority considers factors such as good behaviour in prison, level of rehabilitation etc. in granting parole. They can also specify restrictions on the person’s activities while on parole. Parole is generally granted for specific reasons such as visiting sick family member, delivery of child, attending wedding ceremony, attending land or financial family matter, death of family member etc. There are no limits on the number of times a prisoner can be granted parole or furlough, it depends on the time served, terms of imprisonment and circumstances of parole application.
While the state legislature makes rules regarding Parole and Furlough, texts such as the report of All India Jail Committee and the Model Prison Manual have been held by the Supreme Court as relevant authorities regarding the same.
There are no special provisions with respect to celebrities and there can’t be any, due to the effect of Article 14 of our constitution.
State Of Maharashtra & Anr vs Suresh Pandurang Darvakar, Appeal 421 of 2006