A few undertrial prisoners from Mumbai filed a contempt petition and a separate writ petition before the Supreme Court against Maharashtra government, citing that the state-appointed high-powered committee has not released even a single prisoner on emergency parole, in wake of several inmates being tested positive of the virulent disease.
As per sources, recently, four prisoners, who were transferred from Yerwada jail to Satara district prison tested positive of COVID-19.
The petitioners include Dilip Aapet (45), who is serving three years imprisonment at Harsul Central Jail, Aurangabad, and three undertrials Samir Kakani, Shrikant Joshi, and Vijay Mule, who are lodged at Osmanabad jail, have moved the top court through advocates Satish Talekar and Madhavi Ayyapan. The petition stated that all nine Central prisons in Maharashtra overcrowded.
Earlier, on March 25, the committee consisting of the chairman of the State Legal Services, principal secretary of the Home Department, and Director General of Prisons was constituted by the State government to determine which class of prisoners will be released. The committee directed that prisoners (both undertrials and convicts) who are accused of offenses punishable with seven years or less, shall be released on temporary bail or parole as the case may deem fit. Despite this, the petitioners contend that the Maharashtra government is yet to release any prisoners.
“Even though the high-powered committee took a decision and directed the state government to release the convicts who are undergoing imprisonment for offenses punishable with imprisonment of seven years or less, the state of Maharashtra has not released a single prisoner till date by granting emergency parole” reads the contempt petition.
The petitioners accused the state of ‘deliberate violation’ of a 23rd March apex court order, that was passed in a suo motu petition suggesting that prisoners could be released during the pandemic to prevent contagion in prisons.
Further, the petitioners also challenged the decision of the High-Powered Committee to make the March 23 order of the Supreme Court not applicable to prisoners who are accused of economic offenses and offenses punishable under special acts.