In reference to its order directing all the States/ UTs to constitute High Powered Committees to determine and release a certain class of prisoners on interim bail so as to decongest prisons amid the impending threat of COVId-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court today issues certain supplementary measures to be observed by the state and prison authorities, so that the release of prisoners itself does not lead to spread of COVID-19.
A bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde has directed:
The directions have been issued in the face of submissions made by Attorney General KK Venugopalthat the release and transportation of the prisoners may itself result in transmission of coronavirus from prisons or detention centres to locations where the released prisoners have to reach.
The bench, also comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar has also made it clear that its order for release of prisoners is not mandatory and every state must take a decision on the basis of prison conditions.
"We make it clear that we have not directed the States/ Union Territories to compulsorily release the prisoners from their respective prisons. The purpose of our aforesaid order was to ensure the States/Union Territories to assess the situation in their prisons having regard to the outbreak of the present pandemic in the country and release certain prisoners and for that purpose to determine the category of prisoners to be released," the order states.
Notably, the State of Bihar has not found it appropriate to release the prisoners for complete absence of any patient suffering from coronavirus within the prisons and also for the reason that the prisons are not overcrowded.
Case Title: In Re : Contagion Of Covid 19 Virus In Prisons
Case No.: Suo Motu WP (C) No.1/ 2020
Quorum: Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar
Appearance: Amicus Curiae Dushyant Dave, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta
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