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HPC meets to discuss ways to decongest Delhi prisons

New Delhi: In view of over 300 inmates testing positive for COVID-19 so far in Delhi jails, a meeting of the high powered committee, under the chairmanship of a Delhi High Court judge, was held on Tuesday to discuss how prisons in the national capital can be decongested like last year, sources said. According to the sources, the meeting was chaired by High Court judge Justice Vipin Sanghi and attended by the Principal Secretary Home, Delhi government and Director General (Prisons).

"The committee will look into the prospects of releasing certain categories of prisoners by granting interim bail and emergency parole like it was done last year to ease the congestion in Delhi Prisons in view of the spiralling coronavirus case here," sources told.

The under-trial prisoners can be released on interim bail, while convicts can be release on emergency parole, officials said.

A High Powered Committee (HPC), set up on Supreme Court orders to look into decongesting jails to prevent spread of COVID-19, held a meeting in the evening to consider the release of prisoners in jails in the national capital, the Delhi High Court was told on Tuesday by the state legal services authority, DSLSA.

The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh by DSLSA member secretary Kanwal Jeet Arora during the hearing of three petitions seeking temporary release, on bail or parole, of prisoners involved in non-heinous crimes in order to decongest the three jails in the national capital which are filled beyond capacity.

In view of the submission, the court listed the matter for further hearing on May 13.

Till April 29, 303 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus since March 2021. Of them, 33 recovered, four died while there are 266 active cases.

A total of 125 prison staff members have tested positive for the virus since March this year. Eight have recovered and 117 are still under treatment.

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