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Decongestion Of Prisoners: Over 4 Thousand Prisoners Released On Bail, High Powered Committee Considering Other Relief Measures For Inmates: State Govt Tells Madras HC [Read Order]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 April 2020 8:06 AM GMT
Decongestion Of Prisoners: Over 4 Thousand Prisoners Released On Bail, High Powered Committee Considering Other Relief Measures For Inmates: State Govt Tells Madras HC [Read Order]
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The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday apprised the court of the steps taken by it to decongest prisons as well as to ensure the safety of those who are lodged in jails, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It submitted that around 4182 prisoners who were involved in various offences were released by the Principal District Judges on Bail, by involving the Undertrial Review Committee and Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority.

Further, a High Powered Committee comprising of (i) Executive Chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority, (ii) Additional Chief Secretary, and (iii) Director General of Police/IG of Prisons, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari, Judge of the Madras High Court had been constituted which made the following recommendations to ensure welfare of all prisoners:

  • "To consider relaxing the procedure prescribed in Tamil Nadu Suspension of sentence Rules, 1982 in respect of sanction of ordinary leave for more than a month, including other requirements while sanctioning leave for 30 days for the convict prisoners.
  • Leave of prisoners who are already out of prison on ordinary, emergency and leave granted by the Court may be extended upto 30.04.2020.
  • Prison Department should ensure that the safety of prisoners who are released on leave/bail to reach their destination safely in view of the 144 prohibition orders due to COVID-19.
  • To shift the under trial prisoners from Central PrisonII, Puzhal to Central Prison-I, depending on the need for decongestion.
  • The 3 Principal District Judges of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram are requested to visit the Central Prison-II, Puzhal to assess the possibilities for grant of bail to the above prisoners to further decongest in the Central Prison-II, Puzhal.
  • As a measure of precaution food may also be provided to the inmates inside the dormitories.
  • Prisoners of foreign nationals who have a travel history to the affected countries should be admitted into the prisons only after through screening adhering to the COVID-19 parameters."

The information was supplied to the bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha in a petition seeking a direction to the state government to formulate a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or on interim bail, amid the pandemic.

Notably, on March 23, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde had directed all states and Union Territories to set up 'High Level Committees' to determine the class of prisoners who could be released on parole for four to six weeks. It had also observed that the prisoners convicted of or charged with offences having jail term of up to seven years can be given parole to decongest jails.

The Petitioner-resident V. Krishnamurthy had approached the High Court, seeking enforcement of the same.

After hearing the parties, the bench of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R. Suresh Kumar had last week directed the state government, through Additional Advocate General, to file a brief report in the matter.

Accordingly, the government submitted that it has duly the acted upon the directions of the top court. It was informed that in suit with the state, the Union Territory of Puducherry had also released 85 persons on interim bail.

Further, a Committee comprising of (i) Executive Chairman of Union Territory of Puducherry Legal Services Authority (UTPLSA), (ii) Principal Secretary, and (iii) Inspector General of Prison was constantly sitting over the matter to address relevant aspects.

Expressing satisfaction on the measures taken by the state, the matter was disposed of.

Case Details:

Case Title: V. Krishnamurthy v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.

Case No.: WP No. 7482/2020

Quorum: Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice R. Hemalatha

Appearance: Advocate R. Vivekananthan (for Petitioner); Additional Advocate General PH Aravind Pandian, assisted by Special Government Pleader AN Thambidurai and Government Advocate CV Saichandran (for State); Public Prosecutor Bharatha Chakkravarthy (for UT of Puducherry)

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