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"The Need Of The Hour Is To Immediately Decongest Jails": Madhya Pradesh High Court Issues Directions To High Powered Committee

Sparsh Upadhyay
11 May 2021 8:46 AM GMT
The Need Of The Hour Is To Immediately Decongest Jails: Madhya Pradesh High Court Issues Directions To High Powered Committee
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday (May 10) observed that in view of the fact that all the Jails in Madhya Pradesh are presently housing prisoners almost double the number of their capacity, the need of the hour is to immediately decongest them. The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq & Justice Atul Sreedharan observed thus in a Suo Moto Writ Petition initiated in view of...

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday (May 10) observed that in view of the fact that all the Jails in Madhya Pradesh are presently housing prisoners almost double the number of their capacity, the need of the hour is to immediately decongest them.

The Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq & Justice Atul Sreedharan observed thus in a Suo Moto Writ Petition initiated in view of the unprecedented situation faced by the country & Madhya Pradesh following the second wave of COVID-19.

In view of the extraordinary situation prevailing in the State, and taking into account the Supreme Court order date March 23, 2020 in In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Prisons, the Court deemed it appropriate to direct the respondents to place before the High Powered Committee the following suggestions given by both the Director-General of Prisons and the learned Amicus Curiae:

For convicted prisoners:

The jail authorities should consider granting emergent parole, of at least 90 days, on usual conditions to the following categories of prisoners:

  • All male prisoners, who are more than 60 years of age; ii. All-female prisoners, who are more than 45 years of age;
  • All female prisoners, regardless of their age, who are lodged in jail alongwith with their minor children;
  • All female prisoners who are carrying pregnancy of whatever duration;
  • All prisoners on the basis of medical certification found to be suffering from cancer, serious heart ailments such as having:
  • (i)undergone bypass surgery,
  • (ii)valve replacement surgery,
  • (iii)HIV,
  • (iv)Cancer,
  • (v)Chronic Kidney Dysfunction (UTPs requiring Dialysis),
  • (vi)Hepatitis B or C,
  • (vii)Asthma,
  • (viii)Tuberculoses and
  • (ix)disablement of body to the extent of 40% or more;

For under-trial prisoners:

  • The Superintendent of the concerned Jail, should, in respect of those under-trials prisoners, who are facing trial for the offence punishable up to a maximum of seven years, with or without fine, obtain their applications for interim bail and forward the same to the District and Session Judge concerned, who shall have the same considered and decided within four days for their release on temporary bail for at least a period of 90 days, on the execution of bail bond and surety, as may be deemed appropriate;
  • The Superintendent of Jail, should in respect of those under-trial prisoners, who are covered by the SOP issued by the National Legal Services Authority in December, 2018, obtain their applications for grant of interim bail and similarly forward the same to the District and Session Judge concerned, who shall have the same considered and decided within four days for their release on temporary bail for at least a period of 90 days, on the execution of bail bond and surety, as may be deemed appropriate. In this regard, the assistance of the District Legal Services Authority may be taken if necessary;
  • The following category of under-trial prisoners, may not however be considered for release on interim/temporary bail:- a. those under trial prisoners, who are now in custody for an offence committed by them during the period of interim bail earlier granted to them; and b. those under trial prisoners, who were granted interim bail on the basis of criteria adopted earlier but failed to surrender in time in terms of the bail order and were taken in custody, pursuant to the execution of non-bailable warrant. The meeting of the High-Powered Committee for this purpose be convened on May 12 at the time fixed by the Executive Chairman of the M.P. State Legal Services Authority, either by physical or virtual mode, as maybe deemed possible.

In addition to the above, this Court deems it appropriate to issue following directions:

  • The respondent/State Authorities shall periodically subject all the prisoners to RT-PCR test, once in every fortnight, so as to screen and segregate those who are found corona positive.
  • All new inmates, before being lodged in any Jail, should be first subjected to RT-PCR test and kept in a separate ward till they have tested negative.
  • If any prisoner covered under any of the aforesaid categories for releasing him/her on parole or temporary bail, or otherwise, is found corona positive or suffering from any other ailment, may be provided treatment at the nearest Government Hospital.
  • The respondent/State Authorities shall also get the details of all the juveniles lodged either in Children Home or those in conflict with law, kept in Reformatory/Rehabilitation Centres and subject them to RT-PCR test once in every fortnight, so as to screen and segregate those, who are found corona positive.
  • If any prisoner is found to be detained in jail for the reason of his/her inability to pay the fine imposed, the State Government shall take steps to waive off such fine and ensure their release at the earliest.
  • The Jail Authorities shall place the data of such under-trial prisoners who are facing trial for offences exclusively triable by the Court of Magistrate before the High-Powered Committee for their consideration.
  • The respondents-State authorities should divide all the inmates in the jails on the basis of the age group of 18-45 years and those above 45 years for their vaccination on priority and shall place on record the action plan for their vaccination.

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