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Post SC's Directions, What Are The Steps Taken By High Powered Committee To Ensure Protection of Prisoners From COVID19

Karan Tripathi
30 March 2020 1:31 PM GMT
Post SC
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Today, the Director-General of Prisons (Delhi Government) informed the High Powered Committee of Delhi State Legal Services Authority about the steps taken to ensure that the spread of COVID19 is effectively contained in prisons.

This High Powered Committee, headed by Justice Hima Kohli of the Delhi High Court was constituted by the Delhi Government in pursuance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in a suo moto matter titled Re: Contagion of COVID19.

It was highlighted that as per the Committee's previous directions, a total number of 1500 convicts have been identified for their release on "Emergency Parole" for a period of 8 weeks.

Moreover, Approximately 500 Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) were identified on the basis of earlier criteria to whom interim bail for a period of 45 days have been granted. Some of these convicts and UTPs have already been released and some are in the process of being released.

In order to further decongest the prisons, the High Powered Committee had further relaxed the criteria for release of UTPs on interim bail. The revised criteria is:

  1. Undertrial prisoners (UTPs) who are facing trial in a case which prescribes a maximum sentence of 7 years or less ; or
  2. Even If, the UTP has more than one case and in all other cases, he is "on bail", except the one for which he is being considered and the same prescribes punishment for 7 years or less ; and if
  3. UTP is in custody for a period of one month or more ;
  4. In case of Women UTP, if she is in custody for a period of 15 days or more;

However, the committee has decided to exclude the following kind of UTPs from the aforesaid criteria:

  1. All inmates who are undergoing trial for intermediary/ large quantity recovery under NDPS Act ;
  2. Those under trial prisoners who are facing trial under Section 4 & 6 of POCSO Act;
  3. Those under trial prisoners who are facing trial for offences under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D and 376E and Acid Attack;
  4. Those UTPs who are foreign nationals ;

and

  1. Those under trial prisoners who are facing trial under Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) / PMLA ; and
  2. Cases investigated by CBI/ED/NIA/Special Cell Police and Terror related Cases, cases under Anti-National Activities and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act etc.

In light of the revised criteria, directions have been issued to DSLSA to file the applications of eligible UTPs for interim bail.

It is highlighted that approximately 800 UTPs will be realised, as per the revised criteria, in the coming 3-4 days.

The High Powered Committee has also issued directions to the Home Department of Delhi Government to remit the period of sentence from 1 month to 6 month depending upon the imprisonment awarded to the convicts.

In light of the nationwide lockdown, and the need to maintain social distancing, the Committee has directed DG Prisons and DG Police for safe transportation of the released prisoners to their respective homes.

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