A Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) has observed that there is no impediment in releasing persons convicted under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, on parole in a bid to decongest prisons and correctional homes amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
“Considering the language of the notification dated May 8 and particularly in view of the fact that the offence under POCSO Act, 2012, is not mentioned in the proviso, which bars for grant of parole, there should not be any impediment for releasing the petitioner on parole,” said a two-member HC bench, comprising Justice AS Chandurkar and Amit Borkar, while granting 30-day parole to a convict (27), who is a lodged in Central Jail, Amravati, Maharashtra.
The bench was referring to the notification issued by Maharashtra home department by which Rule 19 of the Maharashtra Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959, has been amended to allow decongestion of prisons by granting certain convicts parole and furlough following the Covid-19 outbreak.
The bench saw merit in the argument made on behalf of the convict that under the proviso to the amended rule conviction under the POCSO Act, 2012, it is no longer a disqualification for availing parole or furlough.
The proviso to Rule 19 states that prisoners convicted for serious economic offences or bank scams or offences under special Acts (other than Indian Penal Code) such Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999; Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002; Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors Act (MPID), 1999; Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985; and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 2019, which provide for additional restrictions on grant of bail, shall not be released on parole or furlough.
The bench said there was no impediment for the convict to avail of the relief
“considering the language of the proviso and particularly in view of the fact that the offence under the POCSO Act, 2012, is not mentioned in the proviso which bars for grant of parole”.
The bench also noted that some other POCSO convicts have been released by the jail authorities on parole that further bolstered the petitioner’s case.
The convict had moved the HC after his plea for parole was rejected by the jail authorities.
He had sought parole to attend to his critically ill sister, but the jail authorities rejected the plea on the ground that he had not submitted any proof that substantiated her illness.