The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered the Maharashtra government and the jail authorities to make a decision, within 15 days, on the applications made 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 the novel coronavirus spreading in various prisons across the states.
A bench of Justice Tanaji Nalawade also said that the authorities cannot give an excuse saying they are "busy working to contain the virus" and avoid making a decision on 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, they 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 possibiility that due to the situation created by Coronavirus, which has spread across the country, that the 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 which are already pending with the government authorities," the bench held.
"An excuse that the authority and the officers are busy in the work to control further spread of coronavirus cannot be heard, as delay in taking decision on these matters will create danger to the life of the prisoners," Justice Nalawade observed.
The judge further said that if timely decision is not taken by any chance, the virus will spread inside other jails too, putting the entire blame on relevant authorities for not deciding the pleas in time.
The bench has accordingly given 15 days time to the authorities for making a decision on such pleas.