The Karnataka High Court recently held that parole cannot be extended on the ground that a convict is suffering from COVID-19 (Rashi Kumara v. Director General of Police, Bengaluru and Another).
"The vehement submission of counsel for the petitioner that he has been suffering from COVID-19 disease and that he needs another extension of parole for his complete recovery cannot be sustained," the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit observed while dismissing the plea.
The plea for extension of parole had been moved by one Rashi Kumara, a life imprisonment convict who was on parole since March 19, 2021 and had further sought an extension of 60 days on the ground of COVID-19 related health issues.
The State had vehemently opposed the plea on the ground that the extension of parole could defeat the very purpose of making convicts serve their sentences.
The Court was of the opinion that repeated extension of parole cannot be claimed as a matter of right and the same will have many disadvantages to the criminal justice system.
"...release of a convict on parole or furlough cannot be sought as a matter of right. A convict after undergoing the awarded punishment purges the guilt; the society and the victims of the offence have a strong justifiable expectation that the offender should serve the full sentence. Releasing the life convicts on parole or furlough intermittently offends the sense of Justice and that shakes the confidence of right thinking members of the public in the administration of Criminal Justice System; this is not a happy thing to happen in a civil society."
Additionally, the Court further noted that this "grant of intermittent parole or furlough apart from generating a sense of insecurity to the victims of the offence, would create an avoidable expectation (although not legitimate) amongst the inmates of the gaol; that may graduate to a kind of right to parole on the principle of parity which again is detrimental to the interest of civil society."
Rejecting the submission of the petitioner that the jail was overcrowded and that his case should be considered sympathetically, the Court opined,
"This is too feeble a ground; no statistical data is produced for maintaining such a ground; even otherwise, in a populous society like ours, there may be some over-crowding in the jail that happens inevitably; however, that is no ground for not serving the sentence."