20 July 2021 12:10 PM GMT
The Chhattisgarh High Court has directed the State Government and State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) to provide data of all such prisoners who were not released on interim bail/ parole pursuant to a recent order of the Supreme Court for decongestion of prisons.A division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Rajani Dubey further directed that a Chart...
The Chhattisgarh High Court has directed the State Government and State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) to provide data of all such prisoners who were not released on interim bail/ parole pursuant to a recent order of the Supreme Court for decongestion of prisons.
A division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Rajani Dubey further directed that a Chart shall also be filed, mentioning the reasons due to which such prisoners were not released.
The Court was dealing with two PILs concerning the non release of prisoners on interim bail or parole, who were released last year pursuant to orders passed by Supreme Court in and consequent recommendations of the High Power Committee.
The Supreme Court had in May this year directed the High Powered Committee of all the States to forthwith release all the inmates who had been released earlier pursuant to the Supreme Court's order dated 23.03.2020, by imposing appropriate conditions. A recommendation in this regard was also made by the State's High Power Committee on May 12, 2021.
It was thus submitted by the petitioners that such prisoners who were earlier released on interim bail or on parole should have been released which wasn't done in the State.
Hearing this, the Court directed:
"Let State Government and the State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) file specific data of only those prisoners who were released earlier but have not been released pursuant to the present order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 7.5.2021 and that of the High Power Committee dated 12.5.2021. The Chart shall also mention as to the reason for which such prisoners have not been released."
The Court also directed the State Bar Council to expedite the process of releasing death claim of all the cases in which there are no substantial defects in the claim application form.
The development came after the Bench dealt with the plea seeking relief for the families of such Advocates who have either succumbed to Covid-19 or have been infected with it.
"We expect that the required steps shall be taken within 10 days," the Court said.
In a similar development, the Supreme Court last week directed that that all prisoners who have been released by the High Powered Committees of states in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic pursuant to the May 7 order in the suo motu case should not be asked to surrender until further orders.
The Court also directed all state governments to submit a report before it by next Friday detailing how the May 7 order was implemented and the criteria adopted by the HPCs to release the prisoners on emergency parole taking note of the COVID situation.
Earlier in Suo Moto v. State of Chhattisgarh and Ors, the High Court had directed the SLSA to ensure immediately the release of prisoners as identified by the state HPC to be eligible for release on interim bail, as a measure to decongest prisons, in compliance with the Supreme Court's order.
The HPC in Chhattisgarh is a three-member headed by the Executive Chairperson, Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority, as the Chairman. The two other members of the Committee are the Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, and the Additional Director General (Prison), Jail Headquarters.
The HPC decided to release under trials and convicts of the following categories: (a) Case triable by Magistrate of First class or Second class and punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or less with or without fine; (b) Languishing in jail for three months or more; (c) Should be a resident of Chhattisgarh.
As per a Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Report, criteria (a) and (b) were relaxed by HPC's meeting dated April 2, 2020. It was extended to a male under trial prisoner who has been in jail for three weeks or more and a female under trial prisoner in prison for two weeks or more. This criterion was further extended on June 12, 2020, by removing the cut-off date for three weeks for male convict prisoners and two weeks for female convict prisoners. The HPC deleted criteria (c) in its meeting dated June 12, 2020.
Details Complied by Shrutika Pandey
Title: Suo Moto WP (PIL) v. State Of Chhattisgarh
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