The Telegraph
Sunday , September 2 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parole cry to tie knot

New Delhi, Aug. 28: Rakesh Singh can’t wait to get married to his long-time sweetheart Roshni.

But there’s a problem: the 35-year-old has to first get past the iron grilles of Tihar.

So Rakesh, who is serving a life term for murder, has written to the Delhi government seeking permission to be released on parole for four days.

He is not the only one impatient to tie the knot.

Over the past few years, Tihar jail authorities have been flooded with requests for parole from inmates of Asia’s biggest prison. “Several such convicts marry after being granted parole. This is a growing trend and we do not have any complaints. It is a positive thing and would also help them in their rehabilitation once they get out of prison after serving their term,” said a senior prison official.

In the past two years, over 150 convicts have got married after being allowed parole.

“Another good thing is that the promise of an ordered family life after jail made such convicts be on good behaviour inside prison. After marriage they become more disciplined and well-mannered,” he added.

But there are others who misuse the relief — 26 convicts have not reported back in the last two years after being granted parole.

“This is why we have written to the Delhi government to make parole rules more stringent and amend the existing guidelines,” another official said.

Last year, Delhi High Court had granted Manu Sharma, serving a life term for the 1999 murder of Jessica Lal, parole for five days to attend his brother’s wedding but laid down a condition — he couldn’t visit nightclubs or discotheques.

In 2009, the Delhi government had landed in a soup after recommending parole for Sharma who was found partying in a discotheque in the capital after being granted the relief to visit his ailing mother in Chandigarh and attend his grandmother’s last rites.

According to the official, jail authorities get 20-25 applications every month from convicts seeking parole on several grounds, including marriage.

“Only those who are well-behaved and have never been involved in any untoward incident inside prison are allowed,” said Sunil Gupta, the law officer of Tihar jail.