With a day to day increase in the number of deadly COVID-19 cases in India, Tihar Jail has decided to release 3,000 prisoners to ease the congestion inside jail. The authorities have decided to release only those prisoners on parole who are serving a sentence of imprisonment for 7 years. However, Tihar Jail Authorities has announced that the release will not be applicable to the hardened or dangerous criminals.
Director General Of Prisons Sandeep Goel said, “We will try to release around 1,500 convicts on parole or furlough, and around the same number (1,500) of undertrial prisoners (on interim-bail) in the coming three to four days to ease congestion in jails in the wake of coronavirus threat.”
The apex court has ordered every state to take into consideration the proposal of releasing few prisoners in order to prevent overcrowding in jails and further preventing the spread of COVID-19. Further, Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde further added, “Each state shall constitute a high-powered committee, it will determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or interim bail for such period as may be appropriate.”
On the other hand, the order also directed the Chief Secretaries of various states to respond by March 20 with the measures being taken to curb the spread of COVID-19 in jails. The orders came in context to an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by Maharashtra government last week in which they had asked to release over 5,000 prisoners on medical furlough or bail to decongest the overcrowded prisons.
On Monday, the AAP government has decided to decongest the jails and approached the Delhi High Court to amend the prison rules by including the provisions of special parole and furlough. The Delhi High Court bench dismissed the submission of the Delhi government by stating that a similar matter has been taken up the top court.
Another PIL was filed before Delhi High Court to provide masks and sanitizers to the jail inmates and also set up isolation wards in the prison premises. The Public Interest Litigation is filed by advocate Vikas Padora in context to the severity of COVID-19. In his petition, he has also asked to spray disinfectants in the jail premises of Tihar and other jails of Delhi with a request to quarantine the suspects in special isolation wards.
Mr. Padora’s petition stated, “As per the data available, Tihar jail has a capacity of 5,200 inmates, but more than 12,100 inmates are currently lodged in the jail, which clearly shows that the prison in Tihar jail is excessively overcrowded and functioning beyond its capacity.”
The petitioner has sought a timely direction to curb the outbreak of Coronavirus in overcrowded jails and said, “Even if one case of COVID-19 goes undetected in any jail, there will not be any stoppage to the same and thereafter the same will not be controlled easily, and which may lead to an unprecedented outbreak of the virus and unprecedented deaths in the jails.”
The COVID-19 cases in India have climbed to 498 with 446 active cases as per the Health Ministry data released on Tuesday. Among these figures, 41 are foreign nationals and 9 casualties have reported so far.