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:
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 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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