Atbir, accused of causing death of his Step-Mother, Step-Brother and Step-Sister by multiple knife-blows, was charged of offence under Section 302 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860. Additional Sessions Judge, on 27/09/2004, awarded a Death Sentence, confirmed by High Court of Delhi on 13/01/2006. SC, on 09/08/2010, found it to be a case falling in ‘rarest of rare’ category’. Review Petition and Curative Petition were dismissed on 02/03/2011 and 14/05/2011. However, Hon’ble President of India, on 15/11/2012, was pleased to accept recommendations of Ministry of Home Affairs and, accordingly, Death Sentence was modified to Life Imprisonment; Atbir would remain in prison, for whole of remainder of his natural life, without parole and remission.
Atbir’s prayer for grant of furlough, in terms of The Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, was rejected by Director General of Prisons on 21/10/2019. High Court found, Atbir was not entitled to seek furlough because he was not entitled to remission of any kind.
It would be relevant to take note of Asfaq v. State of Rajasthan, (2017) 15 SCC 55: “convicts too must breathe fresh air for at least some time provided they maintain good conduct consistently during incarceration and show a tendency to reform themselves and become good citizens.”
We find it difficult to agree, Atbir’s rights, particularly those emanating from good jail conduct, as available in The Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, stand foreclosed. To “remain in prison, for whole of remainder of his natural life, without parole and remission” does not mean, as a corollary, right to seek furlough is foreclosed. Even if Atbir is to “remain in prison for whole of remainder of his natural life”, expectations from him of good conduct in jail would always remain; and lawful consequences of good conduct, including of furlough, cannot be denied, particularly when same has not been prohibited on 15/11/2012. We need not elaborate to say, depriving of concession of furlough and thereby taking away an incentive/motivation for good conduct would not only be counter-productive but would be an antithesis to reformative approach otherwise running through The Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.
It cannot be said, Atbir’s case would never be considered for furlough.
– Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Atbir v. State of NCT of Delhi, [Criminal Appeal No. 714 of 2022].