Due to an unpredicted and unprecedented surge in Covid 19, the High-Powered Committee of Himachal Pradesh has ordered to decongest the prisons by releasing the inmates on interim bail/parole.
The HPC held its meeting pursuant to the directions passed by the Supreme Court on May 7 for de-congestion of prisons. In a meeting held on Thursday, 13 May, 2021, under the Chairpersonship of Justice Ravi Malimath, Executive Chairman of HP State Legal Services Authority, it was noted that from until April 30this year:
- 245 eligible convicts have been granted parole;
- 71 convicts are out of the Jails on parole;
- 33 life convicts were also prematurely released from the Jails on the recommendations of the Himachal Pradesh State Sentence Review Board.
It has been further resolved that those convicts who are at present on parole, will be granted parole/special parole as per decisions of the High-Powered Committee dated 27 March, 2020 and who have surrendered on time will be entitled for an additional period of 90 days.
The meeting was attended by Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, Manoj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh; N. Venu Gopal, Director General (Prisons), Himachal Pradesh and Prem Pal Ranta, Member Secretary.
The Chief Medical Officer of the concerned districts have been directed to conduct proper health check-up of such prisoners/under trials before their release on parole or interim bail. Further, the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police have been directed to make necessary arrangements for transmission of prisoners on their release from jail to their respective places by following the policies and guidelines of the government regarding curfew and lockdown in various cities and states.
Significantly, convicts/prisoners who are foreign nationals will not be considered for grant of special parole. As a precautionary measure, new entrants to the jail including those surrendering after expiry of the period of interim bail/parole/furlough, may be initially kept for a period of about seven days in "Isolation Cells" created/to be created in the jail or in any other premises declared as "Temporary Jail" and thereafter be sent to the concerned jail after appropriate medical check-up and clearance, in order to prevent their intermingling with inmates, who are already in jail.
Further, direction has been issued that the inmates as well as jail staff are entitled to proper medical facilities and COVID-19 safety equipment such as masks, sanitizers, PPE Kits (whenever required) etc. as per the existing protocol issued by the Health Department. The Jail Superintendents shall maintain appropriate levels of hygiene and sanitation in the jails and suitable precautions be taken to prevent the transmission of diseases among the inmates of the prison.