To restrain the overcrowding of prisoners in the prison, the Supreme Court of India on March 23, 2020 (Monday) has directed all states and Union Territories to set up high level committees to determine class of prisoners who could be released on parole for four to six weeks to avoid overcrowding in jails so as to safeguard against the spread of coronavirus pandemic.The Supreme Court said that the prisoners convicted of or charged with offences having jail term of up to seven years can be given parole to decongest jails. Bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that the high level committee will work in consultation with State Legal Service Authority for release of prisoners.
The other Judges in the Bench were Justices L Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant were they said, "We therefore direct that each state shall constitute a high-level committee comprising of home secretary and chairman, State Legal Service Authority to determine a class of prisoners, who can be released on parole for four to six weeks or on interim bail.”
It was said on 16th March by the Bench that it is difficult to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, which has been declared Pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Supreme Court noted that there needs to be the requisite decision which is required to be taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus otherwise situation might worsen in India. The top court had said that there are 1,339 prisons in the country housing approximately 4, 66,084 inmates and a report was quoted from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
which said that the occupancy rate of Indian prisons is at 117.6 per cent, and in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim, the occupancy rate is as high as 176.5 per cent and 157.3 per cent respectively.
Author: Asif Iqbal