In yet another order in the favor of prisoners, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered the Maharashtra government and the jail authorities to decide within 15 days the applications moved by convicted inmates seeking temporary bail under furlough or parole leaves. The HC said the authorities need to focus on such applications too as there is an alarming situation with coronavirus spreading in prisons across the state.
A bench of Justice Tanaji Nalawade also said that the authorities cannot give an excuse that they are ‘busy working to contain the virus’ and avoid deciding such parole and furlough leaves.
The significant order was passed while dealing with a bunch of petitions filed by few inmates highlighting their plight.
In their pleas, the inmates claimed that most of them had applied for furlough or parole leaves months ago, however, are yet to receive any response from the authorities.
"Most of the applications are pending before the authority from December 2019, January 2020, February 2020 etc. The state government has already adopted a procedure for deciding such applications and a time period (to decide such pleas) has also been fixed," Justice Nalawade noted.
"There is a possibility that due to the situation created by the pandemic, relevant authorities are not touching these matters. The virus is spreading rapidly in the jails and that has created an alarming situation," the judge noted further.
The bench further noted that the government has constituted a High Power Committee to decongest jails across the state to avoid community transmission of the virus in prisons.
"In view of these circumstances, this court holds that attention needs to be paid to these applications that are already pending with the government authorities," the bench held.
"An excuse that authorities and officers are busy controlling further spread of coronavirus cannot be heard, as delay in taking decisions on these matters will endanger the life of prisoners," Justice Nalawade observed.
The judge further said that if timely decisions are not taken by any chance, the virus spreads inside other jails too, then the whole blame will be on the relevant authorities for not deciding the pleas in time. The bench has, accordingly, given 15 days time to the authorities to decide on such pleas.