Recently, The Supreme Court while setting aside Gujarat High court’s order on granting furlough to Narayan Sai (State of Gujarat v Naranyan Sai,2021) laid down broad principles which distinguish between Parole & Furlough. A division bench comprising Jt. DY Chandrachud & Jt. BV Nagarthana was hearing an appeal against Gujarat High Court’s judgement. Supreme Court relied on Rules 3, 4, 17 of Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules 1959. Rule 3 describes eligibility criteria for grant of furlough to prisoners serving different terms of imprisonment. Rule 4 imposes restrictions on grant of furlough. The respondent’s side was arguing that Furlough is a matter of right of Prisoner.
The bench rejected it as Rule 17 explicitly states “Nothing in these rules shall be construed as conferring a legal right on a prisoner to claim release on furlough.” Also, the use of word “may be released” in rule 3 shows absence of absolute right.
In Asfaq v State of Rajasthan case, The Supreme court had differentiated between the two as follows:
|Conditional release||Conditional release|
|Granted in short term imprisonment||Granted in Long term imprisonment|
|Extends to 1 month||Only for 14 days.|
|Granted by Divisional Commissioner||Granted by Deputy Inspector General of Prisons|
|Requires specific reasons||meant for breaking the monotony of imprisonment.E.g – to enable the prisoner to retain family and social ties|
|Term of imprisonment is not included in the computation||Term of imprisonment is included in the computation|
|Can be granted number of times||There is a limitation in granting it|
The division Bench laid down the following principles other than mentioned above:
- Although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough
- The grant of furlough must be balanced against the public interest and can be refused to certain categories of prisoners.