A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Supreme Court seeking directions for the release of prisoners from jail who are above the age of 50 years as well as those who are suffering from ailments and pre-existing medical conditions on "emergency parole or interim bail" during the crisis of Corona virus.
Referring to an order passed by the Apex Court on March 23, wherein several directions were passed vis-à-vis certain categories of prisoners in an attempt to decongest jails, the petitioner submits that this category's vulnerability was not brought to the Court's notice. The petitioner, Advocate Amit Sahni, has coupled this order with an Office Memorandum issued by the Government of India on March 20 to buttress his point. As per that order, the Government had directed the grant of commuted leave to those officials who are above 50 years of age and suffer from conditions including diabetes, Respiratory Problems, Renal diseases and other life threatening diseases.
Sahni goes on to state that the purpose behind the Supreme Court taking suo motu cognizance on the issue of overcrowding of jails was "to prevent spread of COVID-19 in Jails across the Country and...to avoid deaths in Jail due to COVID-19". However, he alleges, the Centre and States Governments did not raise the issue of this category's vulnerability before the Court, and as a result, the Court could not pass any orders asking respective Governments to consider releasing them. Furthermore, it is argued that since the Court did take up the matter and passed no directions in relation to these people, the Government will not be considering their release.
Reiterating that people above 50 years of age, and those with the abovementioned diseases are more prone to COVID-19, the petitioner has requested the Top Court to "redress the aforesaid grave injury being caused to the public at large due to aforesaid legislative vacuum and inaction on the part of the Respondents (Union and State governments)". It has been prayed that the Court not only directs the Government to consider such cases, but also take them up on an immediate basis in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.