High Powered Committee, headed by a Delhi High Court judge Justice Hima Kohli, has recommended that the interim bails of 2,177 undertrial prisoners (UTPs) shall be further extended as it would be dangerous to put them back in jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee noted that the interim bail of such prisoners has to be extended by another 45 days from the date of expiry of the relief and a judicial order was required in this regard from the Delhi High Court.
The High Powered Committee was constituted by the Delhi Government in pursuance of the Supreme Court's direction in a suo moto matter on decongestion of prisons in light of COVID19 pandemic.
In light of this, the committee directed the Member Secretary of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to forward the resolution of the committee to the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court, so that the requisite judicial order can be sought.
In today's meeting, Mr Sandeep Goel, Director General (Prisons), informed the committee that all the prison authorities have strictly complied with the previous orders of the committee, which has led to effective control in limiting the COVID19 contagion in prisons.
It was also highlighted that adequate medical care and special diet is being provided to Ms Safoora Zargar and other pregnant women who are in judicial custody.
The committee was further informed that prison authorities have already transferred 260 prisoners from Tihar to Mandoli and Rohini prisons, in compliance with the previous orders of the committee.
Moreover, DG Prisons submitted that isolation wards have been created in order to prevent the intermingling of new entrants with other inmates. In addition to this, the new prisoners are also thermally screened and medically examined.
After considering these submissions, the committee decided to transfer 100 more prisoners from Tihar Jail to Mandoli Jail so that prison administration can implement social distancing amongst the inmates of all three jail complexes.
While informing the committee that as of May 05, 3,573 UTPa and convicts have been released on interim bail or parole or remission of sentence, the DG Prisons also submitted that the principle of social distancing are being strictly followed and common areas which are frequented by the inmates like bathing area, kitchen and jail telephone area are being regularly cleaned and sanitised using appropriate disinfectant.
While expressing its satisfaction with the compliance shown by the DG Prisons, the committee further directed the jail administration to ensure immediate release of UTPs on receipt of bail orders from the court and to ensure their safe transit to their respective homes. For the said safe transit, the prison authorities have to take necessary steps.