Convicts from other states will no longer need to furnish a surety from Maharashtra to be released on furlough, ruled the Bombay High Court on Friday.
A division bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice U.D. Salvi set aside the government resolution of December 16, 2008, which made it necessary for convicts hailing from other states to provide a local resident as surety.
“Such a requirement, as aforesaid, would not only result in imposing a condition not envisaged by the Act and the statutory Rules [the Maharashtra Prison Manual Rules, 1970], but would also end up in being arbitrary, unjust and hit by Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” said the court.
The court ruled in favour of two convicts, one from Jharkhand and the other from Haryana, after both filed separate petitions challenging the rejection of their furlough by jail authorities.
The court further observed that there is no reason to discard a surety from outside Maharashtra unless there is an adverse report about the area where the prisoner intends to spend his furlough.
Jharkhand resident Subodh Prasad Mahato, who is lodged at the Kolhapur prison, was arrested in 2000 for killing a neighbour and was later sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sewri sessions court.
In 2009, Mahato sought furlough, but the prison authorities rejected it, as he could not provide a surety from Maharashtra. Mahato then wrote to the high court challenging the decision of jail authorities.
The second petitioner — Jagbir Singh Jat — who was also refused furlough, was arrested in a murder case on December 23, 1996 and was convicted by a sessions court in July 2000.