In view of the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections, the Delhi Home department has restrained itself from processing prisoners’ cases for parole or furlough.
Ashok, serving life term in Asia’s largest prison, Tihar Jail, applied for parole when the election dates were out on grounds of medical emergency in his family. He was hoping to meet his family members as soon as possible but unfortunately despite parole being approved by the jail authorities, he is still languishing inside the jail.
His is not the only case. Around 80 such convicts, including former Delhi Assistant Commissioner of Police S S Rathi who was convicted in the 1997 Connaught Place shootout case, lodged in nine sub-jails of Tihar prison, are facing the same problem. “Their cases have been cleared by jail authorities but have been put on hold since March 15. Various applications are pending with the state govt officers,” said a senior jail official.
While about 90 per cent of the convicts get parole, only those convicted for heinous crimes may be denied the same. At present around 14,500 inmates are lodged in Tihar jail and 25-30 percent of them are convicts.
In 2010, Tihar also introduced a furlough provision which an inmate can avail thrice in a year. “But convicts with a good track record and good conduct are allowed furlough. The director general (prisons) has the discretionary power to allow furlough or deny,” a Tihar Jail official said. But there are others who misuse the relief and go missing after being granted parole -- 26 convicts have gone missing in the last two years after being granted relief.
Parole is granted to convicts on grounds of sickness in the family, to perform funeral rite, attend marriage, sorting out property dispute, construct a house or repair a damaged house, education or similar reasons. The official added that prisoners, who have agricultural land, are given six-week parole twice a year to cultivate their land and others four-week paroles twice a year.