The high court on Wednesday reprimanded the State government for not taking any action on convicts who were released on parole but never returned.
A Division Bench comprising Justice K Bhakthavatsala and Justice K N Keshavanarayana passed the order while taking suo motu cognisance of the reports submitted by the Home Department and the prison authorities on absconding convicts.
The Bench demanded to know why the authorities kept mum when 91 convicts have escaped till date. If officers do not act on absconding prisoners, it amounts to dereliction of duty and authorities can be penalised, the Bench observed. It also noted that there is no provision in the Karnataka Prisons Act to monitor prisoners released on parole.
Order to Monitor Parole Process
The Bench directed the lower courts and the jail officials to maintain a day-to-day registry on the prisoners released on parole and the timings of their return.
It also suggested an amendment to Section 190(7) of the Karnataka Prison Rules and an effective mechanism to ensure convicts return on the expiry of their parole.
Advocate General Ravi Varma Kumar submitted that circulars have been issued to all superintendents of prisons.
The circular states that if convicts don’t return to jail on the expiry of their parole, officials are to lodge a police complaint within 24 hours.
Court Sets Deadlines
The Bench has directed all district superintendents of jails to file a report on the number of absconding convicts before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) and the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) on or before May 31.
The superintendents are to inform the CMM and the CJM about prisoners released on parole from June 1 on a daily basis. The Home Department has also been asked to submit a report on the number of absconding convicts before the high court’s Registrar (Judicial) on or before June 30.
Besides this, the court has also directed the CMM and the CJM to maintain a parole register and to inspect prisons every quarter. The court has demanded a report on attendance of inmates in state prisons by July 1.
CONVICTS ON THE RUN
According to statistics submitted by the government, 91 convicts have escaped from various jails in the state. Since 2006 in Bangalore Central prison, 2,410 prisoners have been released on general parole and 3,470 on emergency parole. Of these, 28 prisoners are yet to be traced. Two prisoners of the Open Air Jail in Koramangala are also yet to return to prison after parole. In Mysore, 21 prisoners have been overstaying their parole since 2003. Four prisoners have escaped from Bellary central prison and 14 from Bijapur prison while 12 prisoners from Belgaum central prison are on the run.