Lawyer seeks decongestion of prisons
A Bombay High Court lawyer has written to the additional chief secretary (appeals and security) seeking the decongestion of prisons to implement social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Advocate S.B. Talekar has said in the letter that the Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the spread of COVID-19 virus among prisoners due to the overcrowding of prisons. Various States, including Maharashtra, have filed affidavits with regard to the measures to check the spread of the virus.
“The court had directed the State governments/Union Territories to take steps to ensure maximum possible distancing among prisoners, including undertrials,” the letter said. The court, it said, directed that prison-specific readiness and response plans must be developed in consultation with medical experts.
“It has also directed the constitution of a monitoring team at the State-level to ensure that the directives issued with regard to prisons and remand homes are being complied with scrupulously.”
The letter said the SC directed each State/Union Territory to constitute a committee comprising chairman of the State Legal Services Committee, Principal Secretary (Home/Prison) and the Director General of Prison(s), to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or interim bail for the appropriate period.
A copy of the letter has been sent to the additional chief secretary, general administration department and the Chief Minister.
Mr. Talekar has urged all prison officials to be called upon to remain present with the statistics of inmates eligible to be released. In addition, transfer of prisoners from overcrowded prisons to those that are less crowded — such as district jails — is also an effective measure, it said.