Kerala High Court

Kerala High Court: In a Criminal Writ Petition seeking grant of parole to the petitioner’s husband to attend their daughter’s wedding, Bechu Kurian Thomas, J. conditionally allowed the petition in favour of the convict who is serving three sentences of life imprisonment in murder cases and escaped the Central Prison twice. However, instead of allowing 15 days of parole as requested by the petitioner, the Court allowed him to visit his family and attend his daughter’s wedding and return to jail on and a day before the wedding date.

The present Writ Petition is brought in by the convict’s wife. The marriage of petitioner and her husband’s daughter will be held on 22-3-2023 and the petitioner sought grant of parole to her husband for 15 days in order to participate in their daughter’s wedding. The petitioner’s husband has been imprisoned for life and undergoing incarceration for the past 16 years. Due to lack of response to her repeated requests for parole for her husband for this wedding, the petitioner approached this Court through the present petition.

As per records placed by the State, the convict is undergoing three sentences of life imprisonment in murder cases. In addition, the convict had escaped from Central Prisons twice. However, the Court took notice of the fact that the convict’s daughter is getting married on 22-3-3023, as confirmed after enquiry by the Station House Officer (‘SHO’).

The Court observed that the wedding of a daughter is an auspicious occasion, and that the presence of the bride’s father is most appropriate at that solemn function. The Court viewed that “the petitioner’s husband ought to be given parole for partaking at the wedding of his daughter.”

The Court explained that the Court cannot be oblivious to the right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India to be interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity. The Court said that the opportunity to participate in the daughter’s wedding must ordinarily be treated as part of that liberty. The Court further added that “When the statute permits the grant of emergency parole, there is no reason why such a facet of his liberty ought to be denied to him despite him being a convict.”

The Court relied on Sunil Batra v. Delhi Admn., (1978) 4 SCC 494 wherein it has been held that “Conviction for a crime does not reduce that person into a non-human, and they are not denuded of their fundamental rights.”

The Court also noted the facts that the convict is regarded as a person attempting to escape at every chance and allegedly has not reformed yet. The Court further clarified that good behavior is an essential requirement for participating in a daughter’s wedding as an absolute right, which the petitioner’s husband falters on.

Considering all the circumstances, the Court viewed that the petitioner’s husband ought to be permitted to attend his daughter’s wedding under police escort. The Court also permitted him to visit his house for wedding functions on 21-3-2023 to be returned back to the prison on the same day. The Court directed the State to ensure ‘strong and sufficient’ police surveillance including escort, considering the security threats in taking the convict from prison so that the convict does not escape. The Court further directed the accompanying Police or escort personnels to be dressed in plain clothes not to interfere with the wedding functions unless warranted by the circumstances.

Along with this, the Court directed the petitioner and one of her daughters to undertake the return of the petitioner’s husband to jail as directed through the present order by filing an affidavit.

[Indira v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine Ker 1660, decided on 17-3-2023]

Order by: Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas

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