Prisoners move SC to decongest jails

Four prisoners of Maharashtra's Aurangabad Central Jail and Osmanabad District Prison have moved a contempt plea against Maharashtra government for not carrying out the top court order to decongest the overcrowded prisons in the State which are now witnessing several inmates testing positive of corona.

FPJ BureauUpdated: Saturday, May 09, 2020, 12:41 AM IST
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Arthur Road Jail | File Picture

The petitioners have contended that despite the recommendations of the High-Powered Committee, the State government has not acted on it and released the prisoners. The High-Powered committee had made its recommendations for the release of the prisoners on March 25 and they are yet to be acted upon.

The HPC was set-up on March 24 in pursuance to March 223 order of the top court.

“Even though the high-powered committee took a decision and directed the state government to release the convicts who are undergoing imprisonment for offences punishable with imprisonment of seven years or less, the state of Maharashtra has not released a single prisoner till date by granting emergency parole,” says the petition by the prisoners seeking contempt against the State government.

The petition says that the “situation has become so grave that 4 persons who were transferred from Yerwada Central jail, Pune to Satara District Jail are tested positive. None of the prisons are subjected to COVID-19 tests owing to which the real risk of contagion is not being put forth.”

Four jail inmates seeking contempt against Maharashtra government for not implementing the recommendations made by the HPC on March 25, have said that the State government has not acted on its declaration of March 26 that it was going to release 11,000 prisoners.

The top court by its March 23 order had directed all the States and Union Territories to constitute High Powered Committee to decide which category of prisoners can be release on parole or interim bail to decongest 1339 overcrowded prisons across the country in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus.

The top court had ordered that the High-Powered Committee would comprise the Chairman, State Legal Services Committee, and the Principal Secretary­­­­­ (Home/Prison). Leaving it to the HPC to decide “which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate”, the top court by its March 23 order had indicated that the “State/Union Territory could consider the release of prisoners who have been convicted or are undertrial for offences for which prescribed punishment is up to 7 years or less.

The petition by the prisoners has been filed by advocates Satish B Talekar and Atul Babasaheb Dakh.

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