Conviction for heinous offence should not be sole grounds to reject parole: High Court of Himachal Pradesh
Parole refers to a conditional freedom which a prison inmate may be granted for a short period of time where he has to live up to certain responsibilities and will generally be supervised by a parole officer. A bench consisting of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh passed a judgement in the case of Yashpal v State of Himachal Pradesh [CWP No. 4964 of 2020] on 4th June 2021 which dealt with the grounds on which parole could be granted to a prisoner.
The petitioner, Yashpal was undergoing rigorous life imprisonment after being convicted under Sections 302, 201, 120-B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code for murder, tampering with evidence and criminal conspiracy. The respondents strongly opposed parole on the grounds that the petitioner’s crimes were heinous and very serious in nature.
The court noted that the reason behind the sentence was reformation of the convict and not punishment, so a prisoner being allowed parole for the purpose of visiting his family and maintaining social ties was indeed a valid reason for parole or furlough. It was also stated that parole was not the right of any prisoner, but a privilege available to him upon fulfilling certain conditions. Upon analysing past judgements of the Supreme Court of India and other High Courts, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh adjudged that being convicted of a serious and heinous crime in itself could not be sole grounds to reject the parole and that the main reason to reject parole was if the prisoner showed no signs of reformation or was still a threat to society.
Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan can be quoted as saying “Judged in the light of the aforesaid exposition of law, the only ground taken by the respondet to reject the request of parole is that the petitioner has been convicted for a serious and heinous offence and nothing more, cannot itself be a ground for denying the petitioner parole in accordance with the privions of H.P. Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 1968”. It was also added before granting parole that “In case the convict violates or breaches any condition of parole order or creates law and order problem, then it shall be a factor to cancel the parole so granted by this Court and shall be a relevant factor for considering the future requests of the convict made in this regard”.