The Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered Magistrates across Maharashtra to consider deciding applications filed by jail authorities to shift under-trials from overcrowded prisons to the ones least crowded. It also ordered the state to give data pertaining to the crime rates till the state government issued restrictions under the Break The Chain program in view of the surge in Covid cases.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a suo motu PIL taken up on the basis of the coverage of Free Press Journal and Hindustan Times, over the rise in Covid cases within the prisons.
Notably, the numbers of active cases among prisoners had jumped to 200 from 42 within a month.
On Thursday, the bench was informed that the prison authorities to decongest the overcrowded jails, will have to shift number of under-trials to other least crowded jails. "For this there is a required of this Court's orders," AG Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said.
"We can't pass such an order. However, the Magistrates across the state are directed to dispose of such applications by prison authorities, from cases to cases basis, within 48 hours," the judges said.
The bench after perusing the crime records during the pandemic, as submitted by the state, noted that cases of robbery and dacoity have reduced.
"However, this data is only of 2019 and 2020. We want a data till last month when the Break the Chain circular was issued by the state," the judges said while adjourning the matter.