Prisoners convicted for offences that affect the larger public interest and public good cannot claim to mingle with society as a matter of right, the Bombay high court said, while upholding validity of a prison rule that declines a furlough, or leave of absence, to those convicted for kidnapping, smuggling, dacoity and terrorism as well as drug-related offences.
“What is paramount is the impact and repercussions on the society at large if prisoners are allowed on furlough,” the division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and KR Shriram said.
The bench rejected a petition filed by Subash Bhosale, a resident of Mann in Pune, who was convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a minor and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life. The Hinjewadi police arrested him in April 2010 and six months later, a sessions court held him guilty of the crime.
Bhosale approached the high court after the Inspector General of Prisons, in October 2012, rejected his plea for furlough, in view of Prison Rule 4(13), which declines right of furlough to those convicted for serious offences like kidnapping, smuggling, dacoity and terrorism as well as drug-related offences.
His counsel, MM Najmi argued that furlough is a matter of right and cannot be taken away, and that the nature and gravity of the offence could not be a valid ground for rejection of leave.
Najmi further submitted the rule was a violation of fundamental right to equality as it allows murder convicts to be released on furlough, but not persons convicted for offences such as kidnapping.
The high court rejected his submissions stating that Rule 4(13) outlines crimes that are heinous and that if such a prisoner is released on furlough, it could be detrimental to public peace.
“They (convicts) may harm the victim, complainant or witnesses.
“The tendency to take revenge cannot be ruled out. Mingling of such persons will not be in the greater interest.”