Friday, January 8, 2016

[Editorial # 36] For justice in equal measure : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 8th January 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer -writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]
News that Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt will be released by the end of February after serving a five-year prison term for being in possession of an AK-56 assault rifle over 20 years ago will surely draw contrasting reactions from the film industry on the one hand and wider society on the other. His peers in filmdom and his legion of fans may see cause for great happiness in his impending release. However, there may be a larger section of society that may wonder whether justice will truly be served if Mr. Dutt, who is already seen to have enjoyed generous spells of furlough and parole while serving his sentence, is being treated in a special way by his release being advanced by about eight months. Given the widespread perception — reinforced by the recent acquittal of another film star,Salman Khan, in a hit-and-run case — that the system will work only to the advantage and benefit of celebrities, questions will naturally be asked whether Mr. Dutt is being treated preferentially. Arrested in the aftermath of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, he spent 18 months in prison before getting bail. In March 2013, the Supreme Court confirmed a lower court conviction, but reduced his jail term from six to five years. After being given time to wind up his film commitments, he began to serve the 42-month remainder of his term in May 2013. Even then, citing reasons as trite as that he was married and had children, and that he had depicted on screen a form of Gandhian protest, many had appealed for pardon on his behalf. The Maharashtra Governor, however, did not succumb to the demand for preferential treatment to him solely on the basis of his popularity.
In the normal course, a prisoner’s release eight months ahead of the completion of his term will not give rise to unusual scrutiny. Good behaviour is reason enough for routine remission for all convicts, and there may be no cause to suspect that Mr. Dutt has been chosen out of turn. Yet, the State government will have to be cautious and scrupulous in computing the exact number of days he is legally entitled to, mainly to dispel the popular impression that he is being favoured. The actor may have spent as many as 146 days on parole or furlough since May 2013. In law, a furlough is an entitlement earned by spending specified periods in jail, while parole is granted only in an emergency. Both are considered necessary to help prisoners maintain continuity in their family life and help them avoid the ill-effects of protracted incarceration. Comparisons are also bound to be drawn between Mr. Dutt’s case and that of Zaibunissa Kazi, a septuagenarian fellow-prisoner who is also serving a five-year term in the same case. It will only be fair to expect that the rules of remission will apply in equal measure to all prisoners regardless of their social stature or background.
1. Explain the following terms/phrases:
  • Furlough
  • Parole
  • Remission
2. What is the purpose of granting furlough or parole to a prisoner?
3. What is the difference between a furlough and a parole?
4. On what grounds can furlough or pardon be granted?
5. Which authority can grant remission? What are other modes of reducing the punishment awarded by a court of law?
6. What is the structure of Indian judiciary? How is it different from US judiciary?
7. What is the system of appeals in Indian judicial system?
8. Do you think that the legal system is skewed towards the rich and the influential people of the society? How?
9. What are the issues currently being faced by Indian legal system?


  1. 1. Furlough- is a granted to a prisoner if he/she has spent considerable amount of time in the prison. Furlough is granted to a person to enable him to connect with his family and society and to avoid the ill effects of continuous prison life.
    2. Parole- may or may not be granted to a prisoner unless the reasons stated are valid and convincing.
    3. Remission- is basically the reduction of a prisoner's sentence. Remission are granted to prisoners for good behavior.

  2. 2. Furlough is granted to a prisoner to enable him to connect with his family and society and avoid the ill effects of a continuous prison life. Parole is granted to a prisoner only under emergency conditions.

  3. 1. Explain the following terms/phrases:
    Furlough:- It is granted to prisoners which is like a leave period to ensure that they are not going out of the mainstream of social life.It is a duty of prisoners to have a Furlough. Once the prisoner is out it would be easy for him to continue the rest of life without getting sidelined from the mainstream social life.
    On the other hand parole will become a right only during emergency conditions like fathers death, relatives marriage, etc.
    Remission:- It is the reduction in the quantity of the sentence granted by the judiciary.
    However the remession, furlough or parole are a part of criminal justice system not to punish the convict but to ensure reformation.

  4. 5. Which authority can grant remission? What are other modes of reducing the punishment awarded by a court of law?
    On application by a prisoner, the Minister for Justice and Equality can grant enhanced remission of up to one third of the sentence.
    Article 72 and 161 of the constitution of india empowers president to grant pardon,commutation, remission and respite while pardoning powerof death sentence is the
    exclusive right of the president.
    PARDON:- it means to absolve the convict from all sentences, punishements and disqualification
    COMMUTATION:- It means to alter the nature of sentence to lighter one
    RESPITE:- It is to reduce the period of sentence without changing the nature.
    REPRIEVE:- It imples a stay on execution of a sentence for a temporary period.

  5. 6. What is the structure of Indian judiciary? How is it different from US judiciary?
    A. with regards to civil cases the descending order of indian judiciary is as follows
    with respect to criminal cases:-
    LOK ADALATS :- gandhian style of jurisprudence can be seen with much emphasize on compromise between the parties.
    TRIBUNALS:- where there is specialized knowledge is needed where technical matters are involves where the learned judges are not aware of tribunals are formed. NGT,Central Administrative Tribunal etc are the fallout of this type .
    FAST TRACK COURTS- to clear the burden of judiciary by clearing the cases
    Indian judiciary is completely different from US judiciary where we adopted for the integrated system of judiciary which the entire judicial system is to oblige with the provisions of the constitution.
    However in US different states have different constitutions . Moreover indian judiciary is based on procedure established by law where much emphasis is on the provisions of the legal systems while in US due process of law where the intentions and values play a significant role than procedures and rules .

  6. 2.A. To maintain continuity with family and social life.

    B. To meet the emergency needs of his family both during moments of happiness and grief.

    C. These type of provisional leaves leads to introspection where a prisoner can understand the opportunity cost of his deeds and encourages him to become a law abiding citizens and enjoy his rights and freedom.

  7. Prisnors are entitled for 14 days of furlough in a year. Additional 14 days may be claimed by citing reasons .Furlough can be granted on :

    A. Health ground of prisoner

    B. Health ground of family memebers

    C. Furlough is granted even as a reward of good conduct shown by prisoners.

    And other general grounds where discretion lies with jail authority.

  8. 7. What is the system of appeals in Indian judicial system?
    A. Indian appellate jurisdiction can be classified into 4 categories
    1.appeals with respect to constitutional matters:-
    The HC can appeal to the SC when the case involves substantial question of law which requires the interpretation of the Constitution.
    2. appeals with respect to civil cases:-
    when ever there arises an issue which involves substantial question of law of general importance and when the question needs to be decided by the SC the appeal from the HC Will be laid infront of SC.
    3. with respect to Criminal cases:-
    whenever any HC on appeal or by itself taken the case from the lower courts and reversed the order of acqittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or if the HC itself certifies that the case is fit for an appeal the SC will take up the case.
    4. appeal by special leave: The SC on its discretion can grant special leave against any judgement from any court/tribunal except military and court tribunal.

  9. Appeals are made when one of the party is not satisfied with the judgement. In Indian judicial system, an appeal can be made against verdict of a lower court in a relatively higher court.

    So, if someone is not happy with verdict of a magistrate court can move to a District court for readressal and this process to knowck the door of judiciary can go up to Supreme court which is the apex body of Indian Judiciary system.

    However, it must be learnt that a verdict can be trialed in subsequent higher court only after it allowed by previous court.

  10. 8. Do you think that the legal system is skewed towards the rich and the influential people of the society? How?
    A. The recent issues with respect to the bail of chief minister and the release of film actor who are highly influential in their respective fields stand as a classic example for the discrimination which can be sniffed that the judgement is tilted to catch the wind.
    However, on the other hand according to the according to NATIONAL CRIME RECORDS BUREAU there are atleast 65% of inmates who are in jails for morethan 3 months which is against the provision of the law.This clearly shows that the money power is sweeping the way the judgements are given. The helplessness and unaffordability of the poor vulnerable class who are in jails as undertrails couldnot raise their voice to reach to the courts. Hence it clear that it is easy for a person who are affordable can get their voices heard i.e. right to hearing. Hence, right to hearing a fundamental right as interpreted by the SC has not reached the vulnerable sections in the society.

  11. 9. What are the issues currently being faced by Indian legal system?
    A. CRiminal justice system was mooted with the objective to prevent the occurence of crime and to seek fair justice is done both to the victim and the convicted.
    PRISON ADMINISTRATION in india is in grave peril with the overburdened prisoners and less staff. studies have showed that most vulnerable i.e muslims, dalits and adivasis constitute more than 53% of the prisons while their overall population in india is just 35%. The reasons for this is the costly judicial procedures which hits the vulnerable sections hard than for the others.
    The number of cases pending in the courts around 3 crores which has not changed much since 2012.The understaffed personnel in the judiciary further mudlying the water.
    The century old laws of colonial origin are not relevent to the current century where the objective of the criminal justice had seen a radical change from reinforcement to reforming of the convicted.
    the lack of police personnel in specialized subjects like forenseic , cyber crime, IT etc burdens the ordinary courts where the justice is more legal and procedural rather than technical and due process of law.

  12. 1. Explain the following terms/phrases:

    It is a leave of absence or vacation, especially granted to civil servants or armed forces. It also means that a temporary leave of absence granted to a prisoner to retain his family and social ties and avoid ill-effects of continuous prison life. The period of furlough is treated as remission of sentence.

    It is a leave of absence or vacation granted to prisoner only to meet special situations such as attending funeral of family members or any family member marriage's etc.

    In law context, Remission is forgiveness or pardon of an offence or reducing the convicted days of a prisoner. Good conduct is a reason to grant remission for the convicts.

  13. 2. What is the purpose of granting furlough or parole to a prisoner?
    Furlough is granted to prisoners to retain his/her's family ties and social ties to and to avoid ill effects of continuous

    prison life. where Parole is granted to meet special situations such as attending funeral of family members or any family members marriage's etc.

    3. What is the difference between a furlough and a parole?
    Furlough is basically a right of a prison (though not absolute, can be denied in the interest of society) where as

    granting parole is the discretion of the Jail authorities.

    Furlough can be availed by prisoner periodically with out citing any valid reasons. where as Parole cannot availed by

    prisoner periodically and valid reasons have to be mentioned in a petetion to the Jail authorities.

    The maximum number of days one can be on furlough is 14 per year. However it can be extended by jail authorities for

    another 14 days. where the maximum days for Parole is 90 days per year. However prisoner can be out side of the jail more

    than 30 days on Parole at a time.

    4. On what grounds can furlough or pardon be granted?
    Furlough can be granted to prisoner with out any specific reason.

    Parole can be granted to prisoner on following grounds.
    a. To attend any family member's funeral
    b. If any family member is ill
    c. to attend family member's marriage
    d. To attend any financial or land-related matters in the family.