POCSO Act convicts can’t avail emergency Covid parole: Bombay HC

Date: November 07, 2020
Source: The Indian Express
Location: Mumbai, India

The three-judge bench (full bench) of the Bombay High Court on Friday held that prisoners convicted under the Protection of Children from the Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cannot avail emergency parole in view of Supreme Court’s directions to decongest jails due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The full bench said newly introduced Rule 19 (1) (C) of Maharashtra Prisons (Mumbai Furlough and Parole) Rules, which restricted grant of emergency parole to convicts under special laws, covers POCSO Act.

The court on Thursday had concluded hearing of the reference made to it by a two-judge division bench to decide whether prisoners convicted under POCSO Act can avail emergency parole.

On November 3, the full bench comprising Justice K K Tated, Justice G S Kulkarni and Justice N R Borkar had expanded the scope of the case and said it would decide whether emergency parole can be extended to convicts not only under POCSO Act but also under all special Acts like Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), among others.

The reference to the full bench was made by Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik, who last month had ruled on a plea by a 31-year-old man, convicted for raping a minor and booked under POCSO Act, seeking release on emergency parole due to Covid-19.

The HC said on Friday, “The reference as made in the rule to certain special Acts is certainly not exhaustive and would include within its ambit other similar Acts where the offences are serious. The reference to special Acts like MCOC, PMLA, MPID, NDPS and UAPA is required to read ejusdem generis (of similar class). The court cannot be oblivious that when the accused is sentenced for seven years and above under the provisions of the POCSO Act, it is certainly a conviction for a serious offence affecting the society at large.”

“We are not inclined to accept the contentions… that merely because POCSO Act is not found in the special Acts as referred in the proviso, the prisoners convicted under the Act can avail benefit of emergency parole,” it added.

Read The Indian Express (Source) article here.

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