August 4th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
Convicts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will now can be released on probation from six months to three years before the completion of their sentence after the provincial assembly law passed a law to regulate mechanism of probation and parole. Under the law, courts can order a convict to do community service or undergo vocational training by suspending his sentence.
On August 2, Local Government Minister Akbar Ayub presented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Probation and Parole Bill 2021 in the assembly which adopted the bill with two amendments proposed by opposition member Nighat Orakzai from the Pakistan Peoples Party. The House rejected amendment to include members of the provincial assembly on the provincial Parole Committee proposed under the law. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Probation and Parole Bill 2021 will be enacted upon the assent of the governor.
The statement of objectives of the bill states, “It is desirable to promote and regulate the probation of convicts, their conditional release from prison before the completion of the term in their imprisonment to which they have been sentenced, their rehabilitation and integration in order to make their lives purposeful and peaceful in society.”
Release on probation
Under Section 3 of the Act, all competent and established courts including the high court would have jurisdiction to pass a sentence of probation in a manner as specified in the act. The law provides types of probation that a court can pass as sentence of a convict.
Under Section 4, a court can order release of a convict by keeping him under the supervision of a probation officer for the purposes of his rehabilitation and reformation. The convict will be subject to the conditions imposed on his probation.
In case of a person is convicted of any offence carrying a maximum punishment of two years, the court can instead of sentencing him to any fine or imprisonment, release him after due admonition. However, the court has to consider the age, character, physical or mental condition of the convict, and to the trivial nature of the offence or any extenuating circumstances under which offence was committed,
Under the law, a court can sentence a convict to imprisonment, fine, or both, and then release him through the suspension of that sentence. If the convict is convicted of another offence during the period of suspended sentence, he shall be sentenced for the new offence, in addition to which, his suspended sentence shall be activated.
Under the law, a court can order a convict to perform community service without any compensation as part of a probation sentence. The nature of community service would be determined by the probation officer.
Under Section 7, community service shall not be imposed unless the court, after considering the recommendations of the probation officer, is satisfied that the probationer is capable of performing community service. The community service shall prove beneficial to the probationer’s rehabilitation and reintegration into mainstream society and to the community; and the probationer consents regarding the feasibility of community service.
The court is also bound explain in a language that a probationer understands-about the purpose of the community service; the consequences of a breach of the terms and condition of such community service; and that the court can set aside, modify or review any community service on the recommendation of the probation officer.
According to the law, a probationer shall not be required to perform any community service which conflicts with his religious beliefs. Similarly, the probation officer shall seek to arrange the community service so that it does not interfere with the probationer’s employment or education.
The court may also order a convict to community service under its own supervision, instead of sending him into the supervision of a probation officer.
A court can also pass a probation sentence by sending a drug-addict convict for drug rehabilitation treatrnent. Under Section 6, in case the probationer is a drug addict, the court can order him to complete a drug rehabilitation prograra at any drug rehabilitation facility, operated by the government or any registered non-governmental organization. However, this can done only that the service is able to secure a place for the probationer at a drug rehabilitation facility.
Moreover, the court may pass a probation order, in accordance with the sentencing guidelines after considering the age and the gender of the convict, the psychological and physical condition of the convict, the place of temporary and permanent resident or area of domicile of convict and the nature of the offence.
The court can send a convict to receive vocational training as part of the probation order after considering the recommendations of the probation officer. The court will ensure that arrangements are in place which shall enable the probationers to perform such training that suits their age, gender, culture, and disability.
The vocational training shall prove beneficial to the probation, rehabilitation and reintegration into mainstream society and to the community. The probation period may be reduced to six months upon imposition of the vocational training condition. The duration of the vocational training shall not be more than the duration of probation period.
Conditions for probation
The court may pass a probation order, in accordance with the sentencing guidelines after considering the age and the gender of the convict, the psychological and physical condition of the convict, the place of temporary and permanent resident or area of domicile of convict and the nature of the offence.
The mandatory conditions on the probationer include submission of a bond to commit no offence display good behavior and supervision of the probation officer. The biometric registration of the probationer shall be conducted at the time of rendering him for probation.
Under Section 17, a prisoner shall be entitled to parole on his undergoing the minimum period of imprisonment in accordance with the sentencing guidelines. The period on parole shall be reckoned as a part of the period of imprisonment to which a convict was sentenced. The prisoners’ conditional release on parole shall be in such form and shall contain such conditions as directed by the rules or orders made by the parole committee.
Provincial Parole Committee
Under Section 14, a parole committee at the provincial level comprising an additional secretary for home and tribal affairs, inspector general of prison and two persons from civil society to be nominated by the government would be constituted. The parole committee would be convened twice a month to decide upon the recommendation of the parole sub-committee.
Similarly, a parole sub-committee would be constituted in each prison consisting of superintendent prison, probation concerned and parole officer in the district, public prosecutor police officer and two persons, one male and female, from civil society to be nominated by the Home and Tribal Affairs department.