'Overhaul parole mechanism'

Parole is essentially a humane practice sanctioned by law through which an offender sentenced to a term in prison is permitted by the government to go out of jail for a short duration.

However, it is not uncommon for the rich and powerful to misuse the institution of parole to circumvent the law and enjoy the pleasures of life with impunity. There are also reports of prisoners released on parole committing heinous crimes.

However, the prison administration in India is not equipped to systematically monitor the activities and behaviour of prisoners on parole. In the USA, the law permits tracking of a prisoner released on parole through a homing device through which the whereabouts of such persons can be ascertained in real time and preventive action taken.

In India, the entire mechanism of decision-making regarding parole applications and subsequent monitoring of the person so released requires a serious overhaul so as to ensure that the institution of parole is not abused. The reasons for seeking parole must be properly verified before granting the request and later the prisoner's activities monitored for violation of the conditions mentioned in the order.

Also, repeated requests for parole within short intervals must be subjected to the strictest scrutiny before making a decision. For this purpose, it is advisable to vest the powers of granting parole in a board of competent officers instead of a single person so that a well-considered decision may be made about the release of the prisoner.

Politicians must be completely barred from such a decision-making process to keep out political considerations from colouring the judgement of the competent authorities."



(The writer is with the Commonwealth Human Rights  Initiative, New Delhi)

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