Representational image
Representational image
Photo: AFP

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on overcrowding of prisons amidst the coronavirus outbreak. A three member committee has been formed based on the directions of the court. The committee comprises of Justice Doipankar Dutta, chairman of SLSA, DG prison and Principal Secretary.

The matter was heard by a bench comprising of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee of Calcutta High court, while the rest of the functioning of courts remain stalled in the wake of the coronavirus alert.

The three member committee will examine the situation in correctional homes and identify how many prisoners can get bail and how many of them can be out on parole. The committee will file it’s report on the 31st of March. The committee will also consider whether under-trial prisoners can get bail and whether others can get parole, like prisoners who have been in jail for over ten years.

Meanwhile a suo moto writ petition has also been filed in the Supreme court. The notice issued to all states and union territories asks them to show cause why directions should not be issued for dealing with the present health crises arising out of Covid-19 with regard to prisons and remand homes.

This comes three days after inmates at the Dum Dum central jail in Kolkata ransacked furniture, pelted stones at officials and set fire in some places even as there were signs of an attempt to jailbreak.

In another PIL at the Calcutta High Court, filed by advocate Roma Prosad Sarkar questions the action taken by the Central and State governments to curb the corona virus spread. The matter was also heard by the same bench, of Chief Justice Thottathil B.Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee which made no order of the PILS as the court expressed satisfaction by both governments.

The PIL also reflected on the shortage of Covid-19 testing kits. However, the bench observed that they have knowledge of this problem and are hopeful that it will be cleared at the earliest.

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