Updated: May 30, 2021 11:30:38 pm
As part of the ongoing decongestion drive in prisons across Maharashtra that resumed in the second week of May, total 1,102 inmates — both undertrials and convicts — have been released on interim bail or on temporary parole.
Amid rising Covid cases among inmates and increased risk of infection within prisons during the ongoing second wave, the Pune-headquartered Maharashtra Prison Department has once again started the process to release the undertrials on interim bail and the convicts on emergency parole to decongest the jails as per the guidelines laid down by the High Power Committee, constituted by the state government.
As per the data shared by state prison department officials, as many as 1,102 inmates, including 1,007 undertrials and 95 convicts, had been released on interim bail and emergency parole till Saturday night.
The population of prison inmates across the state as on Saturday night was 33,953, of which 32,616 were lodged in main prison premises, 1302 in 40 temporary prisons set up across the state, 32 in Covid care centres, which have been started on the premises of temporary jails for mildly symptomatic Covid-positive inmates.
Following a Supreme Court order in March last year on the spread of Covid inside prisons, the High Power Committee was constituted by the state to determine the criteria for the release of inmates on interim bail and emergency parole.
In accordance with the decisions of the committee, eligible prisoners were temporarily released from time to time during the first wave. The prison population, which stood at 36,060 on March 31, 2020, as against the capacity of 23,260, was reduced to 26,380 by July 31, 2020. After that, the prison population gradually went on increasing.
In a related matter, the Bombay High Court recently asked the committee to issue guidelines on interim bail or parole to decongest the prisons. The committee that includes Justice A A Sayed, a judge of the Bombay HC, Anand Limaye, additional chief secretary (appeals and security), home department, and Sunil Ramanand, additional director general of police and head of state prisons department held meetings on May 7 and 11.
Based on its guidelines, the release of inmates on interim bail and emergency parole has started again in the state in the second week of this month. Officials said various criteria, as issued under the committee guidelines last year, will continue to be applicable for this year’s decongestion efforts too.
Since the pandemic began last year, 44 of 47 prison establishments in Maharashtra have reported Covid infections. The total number of cases among inmates as on Saturday night was 4,049, of which, 3,864 have recovered, 13 have succumbed and there are 172 active cases. These active cases are from 25 of the total prisons. Other prisons do not have active cases among the inmates as on Saturday.
If this data is to be compared to the data of the second week of February, there were just 21 active cases among the inmates across the state when 2,588 was the total number of infections, 2,560 had recovered by then and the number of deaths stood at seven.
In the second week of February, the active cases among the prison staff were 18, which stood at 51 as on Tuesday night. Nine prison department staffers have till now succumbed to Covid infections.
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