Coronavirus | Look into issue of parole for PSA cases: J&K HC

Let the rules be urgently implemented, it tells High Powered Committee

Updated - April 05, 2020 11:37 pm IST

Published - April 05, 2020 11:06 pm IST - Srinagar

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The J&K High Court has asked the High Powered Committee (HPC), convened to de-congest jails by releasing prisoners on parole in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, to examine the allegations that no detainee booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) was being considered for any parole.

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Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal passed these orders on Saturday while hearing a PIL on the outbreak and the J&K administration’s response.

“Let the rules be urgently implemented and steps for grant of special parole to prisoners as is envisaged therein be taken on priority,” observed the division bench.

The bench directed advocate Salih Pirzada to place his submissions by e-mail before the HPC, comprising Justice Rajesh Bindal, chairman and executive chairperson of the JKSLSA; Shaleen Kabra, Secretary, Home; B.K. Singh, DGP (Prisons) and M.K. Sharma, Member Secretary of the JKSLSA.

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The direction came after advocate Pirzada informed the court that the HPC has overlooked the aspect of detenus who have been detained under the PSA. “The order of the Supreme Court makes a reference only to prisoners without specifying the provision of law under which they may have been imprisoned.”

In his letter to the HPC, Mr. Pirzada said, “There were indications that there was vulnerability [of catching the virus] in jails in the context of health, hygiene and sanitation. There is a sizeable number of detainees detained under the PSA and are equally exposed to the hazards of the viral disease in J&K and outside jails. Some of them are elderly suffering bodily infirmity and a few with fatal diseases.

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“The immunity of such jail inmates from the viral malady can neither be guaranteed judicially nor can the segregation be evolved judicially or administratively owing to the general medical advisory for ensuring de-congestion even at dwelling places,” the letter, written to the HPC, reads.

Mr. Pirzada said the SC has illustratively classified convicts and under-trials while projecting lenient dispensation. “Therefore, the cases of vulnerable detainees may be considered for release on parole. A specific provision for temporary release [parole] is provided under Section 20 of J&K Public Safety Act, 1978,” said Mr. Pirzada.

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The Court also already directed the HPC to “keep in view the urgency of the entire matter”, while dealing with the issue.

The directions assume significance after many families of the PSA detenus, who pleaded cases before the HPC for parole, were given a feeling that their cases may not be taken up for the same. The HPC has already prepared a list of convicts and undertrials for temporary release as per the SC directions but did not include those on preventive custody under the PSA.

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