Delhi High Court Grants Parole to Convicts in Heinous Crimes, Emphasizes Severity of Offense Not Sole Basis

LI Network

Published on: October 26, 2023 at 15:11 IST

The Delhi High Court has ruled that the severity of the offense committed by an accused is not a sufficient basis to deny them parole.

In a recent case, the court granted parole to two individuals who had been convicted of heinous crimes, specifically rape and murder, and were serving life sentences.

Justice Amit Bansal, sitting as a Single Judge, stated that the mere commission of a serious crime should not automatically disqualify an individual from parole.

The court clarified that the prohibition stated in Rule 1211 of the Delhi Prisons Rules, 2018 is not absolute, and an inmate can be eligible for parole by demonstrating “special circumstances.”

The case involved two convicts who had been found guilty of multiple offenses under sections 376, 377, 302, 201, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They had received life sentences from the Sessions Court, and their appeals were unsuccessful before a Division Bench.

The petitioners had sought parole to pursue Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) in the Supreme Court, as their conviction appeals had been rejected, and to rebuild social ties. Initially, their parole requests were declined due to the restrictions outlined in Rule 1211(VI) of the Delhi Prisons Rules, 2018, which generally restrict parole for individuals convicted of murder following a rape, except in special circumstances.

However, the High Court, after reviewing the case, referred to a Supreme Court judgment in Asfaq v. State of Rajasthan, which stated that parole should not be denied solely on the grounds of being convicted of a serious and heinous crime.

Additionally, the court pointed to a previous case in which parole was granted to a convict serving a life sentence for a different offense, where the filing of an SLP before the Supreme Court was deemed a “special circumstance.”

The High Court, therefore, concluded that parole should not be denied to the petitioners solely on the basis of their heinous offense. The restriction specified in Rule 1211 of the Delhi Prisons Rules, 2018 was not an absolute bar.

The court highlighted that when considering parole, various factors should be taken into account, including the duration of incarceration, behavior while in prison, and any involvement in additional criminal cases.

In this case, both petitioners had served approximately twelve years in custody, exhibited commendable behavior in prison, and had not been implicated in any other criminal cases. Consequently, the High Court determined that both petitioners met the criteria for parole. However, due to the rules governing co-convicts, the court ruled that the petitioners would be released separately rather than simultaneously.

Case title: Jamahir @ Jawahar Paswan and Ors v. State (GNCT of Delhi).

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