Bombay HC gives relief to man imprisoned for 19 years

Jail officials had rejected his parole plea for surrendering late


The Bombay High Court on Monday quashed an order passed by the Superintendent of Kolhapur Central Jail, rejecting an application for emergency parole citing the COVID-19 pandemic by a convict who has served 19 years in jail.

A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik, hearing a criminal petition filed by Sachin Khambe, through advocate M.N. Gawankar, while quashing the order dated June 22, granted Khambe liberty to file a fresh application and directed the jail authorities to settle the matter within a week.

Khambe’s application had been rejected on the ground that the last time he was released on parole, he surrendered 52 days late.

His petition to the high court relied on a government notification dated May 8, 2020, directing “the Jail Authority to see that the prisoners, who are behind bars, are released on emergency parole in view of the situation created by pandemic of COVID-19 virus.

In the notification, there is condition that the prisoner, who is otherwise eligible to get furlough or parole leave, can get the benefit of this notification, provided that in the past he was released from jail on furlough or parole leave on two occasions and on all occasions, he had surrendered on time.

The high court recorded that Khambe had completed 19 years of actual imprisonment at the jail and has not been released either on parole or furlough leave in the last five years.

The court said, “He was released on parole on the previous occasion and he surrendered late by 52 days. For this default, he was punished by the jail authority and his remission to the extent of 208 days came to be forfeited. There is no dispute that he surrendered on his own. Considering that he has already suffered the consequence of overstay, it would be unjust to deprive him the benefit of the notification dated 8th May 2020.”

A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court had convicted Khambe under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code for killing one Ziyauddin Nizamul Haque.

He was, however, acquitted of MCOCA charges.