The criteria for granting parole should be uniform

When Dera Sacha Sauda founder Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is currently serving a 20-year prison term for raping two disciples, was photographed in October holding an online “satsang” while out on parole for 40 days, there was a major outrage in the media. S. Nalini, who was sentenced to life in jail for her role in the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, received a number of parole extensions from December 2021 till her release. It is not a good sign for the criminal justice system when parole regulations are inconsistent.

Parole and furlough

  • Release from detention for a brief period of time: Both furloughs and parole try to help inmates change their ways by allowing for brief releases from custody.
  • Not a Right, but rather a case of Particular Exigence The provision of parole is made in response to a “particular emergency” and is not a legal entitlement.
  • Both provisions are dependent on the prisoner’s circumstances, including jail behaviour, the seriousness of the offences, the length of the term, and the public interest.

Provision pertaining to parole and/or furlough

  • No particular clause: Neither the Prisoners Act of 1900 nor the Prisons Act of 1894 contained any particular provisions addressing parole or vacation.
  • The state has the authority to enact such laws: The Prisons Act grants States the authority to enact regulations, among other things, “for the shortening of sentences” and “for awards for good conduct.”

Parole rules are different for different states and on different case

  • Suspension of sentence in Uttar Pradesh: According to the Uttar Pradesh rules, the government may suspend a person’s sentence for a period of time, usually up to one month, without using the terms parole, furlough, or leave. With the Governor’s previous agreement, the suspension period may, however, be extended to even twelve months.
  • According to Maharashtra’s laws, a convict may be released on “furlough” for 21 or 28 days, “emergency parole” for 14 days, or “normal parole” for 45 to 60 days, depending on the length of their sentence.
  • Haryana’s parole laws have recently been changed, allowing for “normal parole” of up to 10 weeks (in two halves), “furlough” of three to four weeks every year, and “emergency parole” of up to four weeks. Ram Rahim is currently on parole as usual.
  • Rules of leaves and their application in the cases of Tamin Nadu and Nalini: Although the 1982 Tamil Nadu guidelines allow for “regular leave” to last between 21 and 40 days, “emergency leave” is only allowed for up to 15 days (to be spread over four spells). The government may, however, extend the duration of emergency leave in extraordinary cases. Due to her mother’s illness, Nalini had been on long-term emergency leave until recently.
  • Rules in Andhra Pradesh forbid extension, in contrast to TN: Surprisingly, the Andhra Pradesh regulations expressly forbid this extension (Nalini extension) due to the ongoing illness of a prisoner’s kin. The government may, however, extend parole/emergency leave in exceptional circumstances. They allow “furlough” and parole/emergency leave up to two weeks.
  • Similar to other states, Odisha’s laws allow for up to a four-week “furlough,” a 30-day “parole leave,” and a 12-day “special leave.”
  • West Bengal: In the event of a “emergency,” a prisoner may be released on “parole” for a maximum of one month and up to five days.
  • Kerala: Kerala offers up to 15 days of “emergency leave” at a time and up to 60 days of “regular leave” in four spells.

‘Custody parole’ provision

  • Release from custody after being denied permission to depart for a few hours in the event of an exceptional emergency.
  • parole from prison For Haryana: A hardened criminal who is not eligible for parole or furlough may be freed for up to six hours to attend a close relative’s funeral or wedding while being escorted by the police. There is an extensive list of “hardcore” inmates in Haryana who are not eligible for release other than on “custody parole” under specific circumstances.
  • Tamil Nadu: A prisoner who is freed on emergency leave and poses a threat to the community is given police escort.
  • Kerala: Similar to the situation above, prisoners in Kerala who are not qualified for emergency leave may be allowed to visit under police escort for up to 24 hours.
  • States that forbid the release of dangerous to society habitual offenders and convicts under Sections 392 to 402 of the Indian Penal Code include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, and West Bengal.


Arbitrariness is likely to creep in without a common legal framework in place to regulate the States and prevent abuse, endangering the entire criminal justice system. This task is impractical given that “prisons” is on the State List unless at least half of the States unite to ask the Central Government to pass a common law on parole and furlough for the entire nation.

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