Parole and Furlough: A Detailed Analysis


The notion of parole includes Convicts and undertrial prisoners whereas the notion of Furlough only includes the convicts who are already convicted for the crime they have committed and whose crime has been proven in the court of law and living their life in  imprisonment for the same.

‘Parole’ means the release of the convict/prisoner for a temporary period, or for a special purpose, or complete before the expiry of a sentence of the prisoner, on the promise of his/her good behavior. The Word ‘Parole’ is derived from the French word “je donne ma parole”, which means “I give my word”. Parole is a privilege, a chance to set free from the punitive imprisonment for a limited period to socialize with their family, friends, and their loved ones. It is not an absolute release rather, it is a conditional one where the prisoners will be required to report to the police authorities within a set period of time. Under Black’s Law Dictionary, the term ‘parole’ has been defined as the “conditional release of a prisoner from imprisonment before the full sentence has been served. Parole is granted to a person who has already served a portion of his/her punishment. In the case of short-term confinement or imprisonment, parole may be granted. If the conditions of parole are not abided by the parolee, he may be returned to serve his sentence in prison. Parole is a reformative process. In India, the parole is granted by the Divisional Commissioner of the state.

‘Furlough’ on the other hand is granting leave of absence to the convict from the prison on his good remission. The concept of furlough is broadly similar to parole. Furlough is given to the convicts who have longer imprisonment. Furlough is allowed on a regular basis for no specific reason but just to allow the prisoner to maintain his social relationships. The right to be released on furlough is a matter of substantial and legal right of the prisoner/convict, and it cannot be rejected if permitted by law but there are always exceptions also where it shall be denied for the greater good.

Furlough is a matter of the right of a prisoner to be granted leave from the prison irrespective of any reason but merely to reconcile with his/her family. Parole on contrary is not considered a matter of right and cannot be granted without any specific reason such as a death in family, marriage, etc. In the case of long-term confinement, Furlough may be granted to the prisoners. The grant of Furlough is not absolute; there are exceptions also where it may not be given to the prisoners. During the period of furlough granted, the sentence of the convict goes along with the furlough period and is included and counted in the sentence period only. In India, the furlough is granted by the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons.

The Historical Perspective of Parole and its Objective

The notion of Parole in the year 1840 was introduced by Alexander Maconochie, a Scottish geographer, and captain in the royal navy. In the 19th century, Parole became the part of the reformatory trend in the subject of criminology. Maconochie was later appointed as Superintendent of British penal colonies. Instead of letting the prisoners suffer hopelessly until their whole sentence is completed, Maconochie aimed to punish the offenders by training them for the future. Maconochie developed a system of grades where he developed 3 grades. In the first and second, it was mainly for the promotion or ranking of the offenders based on their good behavior, work, etc. The third grade was for the conditional release of the prisoner outside the prison where he can feel the taste of freedom. In violation of conditions, the prisoner will be brought back to the prison and must start all over again the process of three grade system. The ticket to leave-system was reformed and this led to what many people consider the world’s first Parole system. As a practice in the 1900s, parole has experimented with almost simultaneously in 3 Countries that are Spain, Germany, and England, and later was adopted by many.

Objectives of Parole:

The objectives of the Parole process are

1.      Prisoner can regain his social contract and can deal with their family members.

2.      Prisoner can develop or maintain self-confidence.

3.      Prisoners can take a break from their monotonous prison life.

4.      It will spark hope in the prisoner’s life, to live his life in search of a better life ahead of him.

Types of Parole

There are 2 types of parole that can be classified into

Regular Parole

Regular Parole is a type where parole is not needed on an urgent basis. The govt. has options for considering applications for regular parole and granting or rejecting them. There are a few grounds on which the application for regular parole can be considered:

•       Serious illness of a close family member.

•       The marriage of a family member.

•       Delivery of a child by the prisoner’s wife.

•       Serious damage to life or property of a family member due to natural calamity

•       Maintaining social and familial relationships

Emergency Parole

Emergency parole is provided to the prisoners in an emergency or circumstances such as an accident of a family member or the death of a family member. Emergency parole is also known as custody parole.

Qualifications for the Grant of Parole

According to 2010 Parole/Furlough guidelines, the qualifications of a prisoner for grant of parole are:

  1. A convict must have served at least one year in prison, not including any period covered by remission;
  2. The conduct in prison of the prisoner must have been uniformly good;
  3. During the period of release on parole, if granted earlier, the convict should not have committed any crime;
  4. The convict should not have violated any terms and conditions of the parole granted previously;
  5. A minimum of six months ought to have elapsed from the date of termination of the previous parole.

Disqualifications for the Grant of Parole

The following prisoners/convicts would not be eligible for being released on parole:-

  1. Convicts whose release on parole is considered dangerous or a threat to national security or there exists any other reasonable ground such as a pending investigation in a case involving serious crime;
  2. Prisoners who have been involved in crimes and offenses against the State, like sedition, or who have been found to be instigating serious violations of prison discipline;
  3. Prisoners who have escaped from jail.
  4. The prisoner is not a citizen of India;
  5. In the following cases, parole would ordinarily be not granted except, if in the discretion of the competent authority special circumstances exist for grant of parole; (a) If the prisoner is convicted of murder after rape; (b) If the prisoner is convicted for murder and rape of children; (c) If the prisoner is convicted for multiple murders.

Is Furlough a Legal Right of the Prisoner?

The answer to this is No! Although furlough can be granted without any justification, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough. In a recent case of State of Gujarat v. Narayana(2021), where 2 judge bench of DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna, formulated broad principles for the concept of Parole and Furlough, an explanation of the distinct nature of parole and furlough was observed and core principles were laid down for both the notions.

The court interpreted the Bombay Furlough and Parole Rules made pursuant to Section 59 of the Prisons Act 1894 and noticed that same does not confer a right to a prisoner to be released on furlough. Furlough under the act is regulated by Rule 3 which provides grant of furlough to prisoners serving different lengths of imprisonment. Whereas, rule 4 talks about its limitations to it. In rule 3, the expression used for the grant is described as “may be released” which gives discretionary power to the concerned officer. In rule 17, the rules do not confer a legal right on a prisoner to claim release on furlough. Therefore, the grant of release on furlough is a discretionary remedy circumscribed by Rules 3 and 4.

The principles laid down by the Court in the above-stated case are:

•       Furlough and parole envisage a short-term interim release from the custody;

•       While parole is granted for the prisoner to meet a specific situation or event, furlough may be granted after a stipulated number of years have been served without any reason;

•       The grant of furlough is to break the monotony of imprisonment and to enable the convict to maintain continuity with family life and integration with society;

•       Although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough;

•       The grant of furlough must be balanced against the public interest and can be refused to certain categories of prisoners.

Similarities between Parole and Furlough

The objective of both Parole and furlough is to maintain a balance between human rights and offender punitive punishment for harm to society. Both are forms of a conditional release granted to the prisoner on following certain conditions as decided by the authorities. For the grant of parole and furlough, there is no uniform central legislature, rather it is governed by every state. Different states have their own rules and regulations for governing the two concepts of interim freedom.

Difference between Parole and Furlough

Serial no.FurloughParole
  1.Right of the prisoner.Not a right of the prisoner. 
  2.It is releasing a prisoner with remission of his sentence.It is releasing a prisoner with a suspension of the sentence. 
  3.In the case of long-term confinement, Furlough may be granted.In the case of short-term confinement, parole may be granted.
  4.There is a limitation to grant furlough.It can be granted a number of times.
  5.Furlough lasts for fourteen days maximum.Parole lasts for one month.
  6.It is to break the monotony of punishment so no justification is needed.A specific justification is necessary.
  7.The sentence of convict goes along with the furlough period. The days of leave aren’tincluded within the sentenced period.
  8. It is granted by the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons.It is granted by the Divisional Commissioner.

Misuse of Parole & Furlough

When a law, a rule, or regulation is made for the welfare of society or for a privileged class of people, for their development or interest, there is always an association of negative aspects. Misuse of law or interest or benefit is the other side of the coin.

There are been many such instances where the Parole granted to the prisoner was being misused by him to escape or to tamper with evidence. There have also been such instances whereby parole granted to the person does another criminal activity or activity of a similar nature. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s recent report on prison statistics, in 2019, 26,390 people were released on parole. Out of these, 205 people jumped on parole and absconded. During the years 2004-2014, 8900 convicts were reported to have skipped parole. Of these, only 2062 were apprehended by the police.

The most common way to misuse parole or parole is to harness your influence. It seems that influential people are able to get parole or furlough relatively easily, and they are able to resume their glamorous lives once they are released. The convict in the infamous murder case Jessica Lal was found clubbing during his parole, the reason for his application for parole was the death of his grandmother, which happened a year ago, and his mother’s illness, which also turned out to be incorrect. Reality.

There is no way to keep track of those who are released on parole or furlough. Some judicial precedents, such as Dinesh Kumar v. Govt.of NCT of Delhi, hold that the seriousness of the offense committed cannot be the sole factor in denying parole or leave and that the circumstances and reasons of the convicted person must be taken into account to provide the perpetrator with leeway to defraud justice system and parole or furlough.

Lack of communication between authorities of different states or cities can also become a great factor. It requires quick and effective decisions to catch the parolees; harmony between the officers shall be the top priority. Often parolees take advantage of this loophole and do not follow any conditions and police authorities because of their non-communication they do not realize that the parolee has not returned.

Parolees often end up committing another crime while on parole. In the case of Saibanna v. State of Karnataka, a person who was serving his life sentence was granted parole and was released on a conditional release for the period of one month, whereby he committed two murders of his second wife and child in cold blood. Such outcome of parole are dangerous to society at large and needs to be fixed.

The ratio of parole jumpers can be reduced if the strict implementation of legal sanctions is imposed. A parole jumper can face up to 2 years of additional imprisonment under the legislation. The prisoners who are granted parole should be made aware to prevent the parole jumpers. Parole jumpers should be further restricted to receive parole in the future.

Important Case Laws

In a recent case of Deepak Sharma vs. State of Haryana, wherein the petitioner requested to grant him furlough for the objective to reconcile with his family and asked for 2 weeks period, the authorities denied the permission on basis of him availing parole earlier. When the matter went to the high court, it opined that the petitioner was convicted for a long period and had already served 10 years of prison, also he has submitted himself to the prison authorities when noticed by prison authorities while he was out on parole. Further, his conduct was good and proved to be not harmful to society. Furlough was granted to him by the High court which held that both parole and furlough should be dealt with separately.

In the case of Kesar Singh Guleria v. the State of Himachal Pradesh, the High Court held that the release of a prisoner on Parole or furlough should not be considered an act of compassion, pity, or charity, but shall be discharged as a lawful duty that must be carried upon prescribed conditions for achieving the relevant purpose.

In another case Asfaq v. state of Rajastan, the apex court referred to many cases and gave the distinction between Parole and Furlough:

  • Both Parole and Furlough are conditional releases. The former is granted in short-term imprisonment whereas the latter is granted in long-term imprisonment.
  • The Duration of parole to the maximum extent a prisoner can be granted is of one month whereas furlough extends to 14 days.
  • Granting authority for parole is the Divisional commissioner and for furlough, it is the deputy inspector general of prisons.
  • The reason for granting parole is necessary. However, in the case of furlough, it is not necessary because the main goal is to break the monotony of detention and maintain contact with the outside world.
  • Parole can be granted many times however furlough has a limitation. Furlough can be denied in the interest of society at large. The utmost priority in the grant of furlough shall be of society.


The parole and furlough, thus, provide for a humanistic approach toward convicts lodged in jails. The main purpose of such provisions is to afford convicts an opportunity to resolve their personal and family problems and to enable them to maintain their links with society. It can be said to be more of a balance between the punitive punishment and the human right of the convict. Both the concepts of parole and furlough can be regarded as an approach to the reformation of the legal system, but it still needs a lot of development as there are many cases that we hear of on a daily basis of its misuse. The laws shall be made stricter for furlough and parole jumpers. Prison authorities should thoroughly check the ground for Parole-seeker and in the cases of furlough, those prisoners who are no longer harm to the society shall be granted furlough.

This article is authored by Mahir Shah, student at GLS Law College.

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  1. A very detailed Analysis, please keep posting case studies like this as they are very beneficial for students especially in law field. For online law certification courses visit LedX’s Website.


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