Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has asked for the release of nearly 11,000 convicted/undertrial prisoners imprisoned for offences with prescribed punishment up to seven years or less (with or without fine) on emergency parole or furlough, to reduce overcrowding in prisons and reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus. A meeting with police brass was held to discuss the logistics and modalities of this operation, which the Deshmukh wants completed in a week. "We are also looking at undertrials being given bail or even a full release to those who have completed longer terms in prison than the prescribed punishment.”
The state has 60 jails, with over 36,000 inmates. The nine central prisons (Mumbai, Thane, Kharghar, Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Kalamba, Amravati and Nagpur) are the most crowded and the home ministry had already asked for the inmates to be shuffled, to reduce crowding, especially in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail. Many had red-flagged this as a potential flashpoint for the rapid spread of CoVID-19.The Supreme Court is seized of a suo motu petition to prevent the outbreak and rapid spread of CoVID-19 in prisons due to crowding, The state home ministry had appointed a high-powered committee comprising the chairperson of the state legal services committee, the principal secretary (Home) and DG (Prisons), to determine which class of prisoners could be released on parole or interim bail. The meeting on Thursday led to a finalisation of this decision.