MUMBAI: Over 8,000 prisoners (convicts and under-trials) have approached the Bombay High Court seeking their release from the Yerwada Central Prison in view of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The prisoners have said that if they aren't released and get infected with the deadly virus and succumb to it, then the Maharashtra government will have to compensate their family members with at least Rs 2 crore per family. The bench of Justice Sandeep Shinde, on Monday, ordered the government to clarify its stand on the issue.

This comes after the Supreme Court last week ordered all the states to constitute a committee to decide whether the convicts punished to at least seven years jail term or the under-trials booked for crimes that provide seven years imprisonment could be released on bail for a limited period. "Despite this order, the Maharashtra government has not constituted the mandatory committee.

The government seems in no mood to comply with the SC directive and is taking the issue for granted," the 8,000 plus prisoners have stated in a letter they wrote to Chief Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari, urging him to take cognisance of the matter.

Notably, most of these prisoners have gone on a hunger strike from March 26 and despite this the government has not taken any steps to comply with the SC orders. The matter was taken up for hearing on Monday wherein advocate Shashikant Chaudhary appeared on behalf of these prisoners.

"The government pleader told the court that there has been no decision yet on whether to release these prisoners or not. Justice Shinde, accordingly, ordered him to take instructions and clarify the government's stand on the issue," Chaudhary said.

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