Covid-19: Maharashtra to release about 50% prisoners to decongest prisons
To avoid spread of Covid-19 inside jails in Maharashtra, the state prison department has decided to temporarily release around 17,000 prisoners, which is around half of the pre-lockdown the population in jails in Maharashtra, the state government said on Tuesday.
A Supreme Court-mandated high powered committee (HPC) held meeting on Monday following detection of 185 positive coronavirus cases in Arthur Road Jail, which included 158 inmates and remaining staff, and one case in Byculla Jail. Based on the committee's recommendations, the government has has increased number of prisoners who are slated to be released temporarily.
On March 26, the Maharashtra government had announced that nearly 11,000 inmates — both undertrials and convicts — would be released either on provisional bail or parole. After the process of release started on March 28, over 5,200 prisoners have been released on conditional bail. The process of release of convicts began on May 8 in which around 500 inmates have been released on emergency parole by the state prison department. The proposed number of inmates to be releases has now increased to 17,000.
In a tweet, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh Tuesday said, "Among the prisons in Maharashtra, Arthur Roas Jail has around 185 coronavirus positive cases. All of them are being treated. To avoid spreading of such infection in other jails, state government has decided to release 17,000 of the inmates from the (pre-lockdown) population 35,000. Of them around 5,000 undertrials have already been released. We will now be releasing around 3,000 prisoners who have been sentenced to less than seven years of imprisonment. And 9,000 more inmates who have been undergoing sentence of more than seven years, will also be released. Thus of the 35,000 population, up to 17,000 will be releases temporarily."
"This will not be applicable those who are incarcerated for serious offences of rape, serious economic or bank frauds, or booked under stringent acts MCOCA or MPID. Moreover we have already locked down eight prisons in the state so no new inmates will be added in these jails and staff will not go in or out," he added.
Prison department officials said the committee has recommended a list of norms for the release of the inmates. In both these types of temporary releases — bail to undertrials or parole to the convicts — the prisoners are initially being released for 45 days or till the state government withdraws the notification issued under the Epidemics Diseases Act, whichever is earlier. The initial period of 45 days shall stand extended periodically in blocks of 30 days each.
(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)