Section 55 of the Prisons Act, shall not be applicable with respect to release on parole: Supreme Court

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While hearing Rohan Dhungat vs The State of Goa case, the Supreme Court stated that “the period of parole has to be excluded from the period of sentence under the Goa Prison Rules, 2006 while considering 14 years of imprisonment for premature release.” The top court observed that if the parole period is included in the sentence period then there would be no restrictions for the influential prisoners and they would be able to get parole several times. Due to this, the actual purpose of the imprisonment would be demolished.  

The two-judge bench of the Supreme Court including Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar said that “We are of the firm view that for the purpose of considering actual imprisonment, the period of parole is to be excluded. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court holding so.” The bench in this case was considering a challenge against an order passed by the Bombay High Court in context with Section 55 of the Provisions Act, 1894 and Rule 335 of the Goa Prison Rules.  

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The petitioner was dissatisfied with the impugned judgment passed by the Bombay HC as they dismissed the writ petition to exclude parole from the period of sentence. Special Leave Petition was considered by the original writ petitioners who were the convicts undergoing life imprisonment. All of them applied for premature release under the Goa Prison Rules, 2006 recommended by the State Sentence Revenue Board. While addressing their application for parole, the State Government asked for an opinion from the convicting Court. The Court opined that based on their conducted offense, they should not be released prematurely.  

 During the hearing, various arguments were made by Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave on considering the parole period as part of the sentence. He said that “Even while on parole the accused/convicts can be said to be in custody/judicial custody and therefore, period of parole is to be included while considering 14 years of actual imprisonment for the purpose of premature release.” 

In context to this case, the Supreme Court highlighted that “Section 55 of the Prisons Act, 1894 shall not be applicable with respect to release on parole and shall be applicable in the case where a prisoner is taken out from any prison, he shall deem to have been in prison. However, the same shall not be applicable with respect to release on parole.” Thus, dismissed the Special Leave Petition.  

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