Jamiat moves SC to expedite prisoners release during pandemic

The Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi, (Asian independent) The Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind has moved an intervention application in the Supreme Court seeking impleadment in the case where the court has taken suo motu cognizance of overcrowding in prisons across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Muslim body, in its plea, said “the Applicant Organisation is primarily raising the issue of the fundamental right to life and liberty of all such Muslims convicted prisoners and undertrials who are being provided legal aid on account of their poverty and disadvantaged financial position”.

The organisation argued that even though the apex court had passed directions for effecting the release of prisoners on March 23, there was no compulsion on such release.

The plea contended that the High-Powered Committees (HPC) of most states/UTs have already specified the criteria for release of prisoners, yet the prisoners are not being released immediately.

“In Andhra Pradesh though 1,350 prisoners have been identified by the HPC but only 259 prisoners have been released. In Gujarat, though 1,200 prisoners have been identified by HPC but no prisoners have been released,” said the plea, seeking that the top court consider making release compulsory especially in those states, where the prisons are admittedly overcrowded.

The plea cited in Kerala, 1,000 prisoners have been identified but only 450 prisoners have been released. “In Madhya Pradesh, 12,000 prisoners have been identified but only 6,033 have been released; in Maharashtra, 11,000 prisoners have been identified but only 2,520 have been released. It is therefore necessary to avoid any delay in releasing of the prisoners as a delayed response may not have the desired effect,” said the plea.

The petitioner submitted that in deciding the categories of prisoners for release, priority should be given to those convicts who have been released on parole at least once and have reported back to prison without flouting any condition.

“Furthermore, preference should be given to those convicts who are above 50 years of age, given their higher vulnerability to the coronavirus,” added the plea.

Suggesting the category of convicts for temporary release by the HPC, the plea said “(i) convicts who have completed their sentence but are still in prison due to non-payment of fine (ii) Convicts who are serving a sentence of not more than seven years and have served at least one third of their sentence (iii) convicts who do not fall in the above categories but their sentence would get over within next two months may be considered for unconditional final release.”

The petitioner argued that the state may release the convicts on atemporary release’ by exercising the powers conferred under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

The plea said Iran, Turkey, and Indonesia reportedly released 80,000, 45,000, and 30,000 prisoners respectively. “Countries with overcrowded prisons like the United States, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Brazil, Afghanistan have all been reported to have released a significant number of prisoners last month itself,” said the plea.

Previous articleFavouring lockdown, HP CM says 55,000 state people stranded
Next articleAI flight from Abu Dhabi lands in Hyd with 170 evacuees