Decongestion: Prisoners who have COVID-19 should not be released: Supreme Court

Prisoners who have suffered from coronavirus (COVID-19) should not be released on interim bail or parole, the Supreme Court ordered on Monday.

A Bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said appropriate tests for COVID-19 should be conducted on prisoners scheduled for release.


However, the court agreed to a plea that prisoners or detenus who have been under detention for two years in the foreigners’ detention centres in Assam should be released on account of the pandemic.

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Despite objections by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that their release would see them mix with the local population again, the court modified its May 2019 order to allow these detenus to furnish a bond of ₹5,000 instead of ₹1 lakh. They need to also furnish two Indian citizens as sureties.


The Bench passed these orders during a suo motu hearing on measures taken to decongest prisons, correction homes and detention centres. On March 23, the Bench had ordered the States and the Union Territories to set up special committees to examine the cases of prisoners and shortlist those who could be granted bail or parole.

On Monday, however, Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, raised the spectre of released prisoners transmitting the virus to the outside population.

Taking this into consideration, the Bench directed that “no prisoner shall be released if he/she has suffered from coronavirus disease in communicable form hereafter. For this purpose, appropriate tests will be carried out”.

“If it is found that a prisoner who has been released is suffering from coronavirus after the release, necessary steps will be taken by the authority concerned by placing him/her in appropriate quarantine facility.”

The court directed that transportation of prisoners would be done in full compliance of the rules and norms of social distancing.

“For instance, no transportation shall be allowed in excess of half or one fourth capacity of the bus as may be found appropriate to ensure that the passengers who have been found to be free of coronavirus disease are at a distance from each other,” said the order.

The court said the order would also be applicable to correctional homes, detention centres and protection homes.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 2:54:38 AM |

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