The DAY after announcing that nearly 11,000 inmates will be released from prisons across Maharashtra to reduce crowding amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the procedure to release inmates on provisional bail started on Friday.
The state government had announced on Thursday that nearly 11,000 inmates — both undertrials and convicts, who are incarcerated for lesser and non-heinous offences with maximum prescribed punishment of less than seven years – will be released either on provisional bail or parole, as per the recommendations of a High-Powered Committee.
The committee was formed following directions of the Supreme Court to formulate guidelines to reduce overcrowding in jails to prevent spread of the infection. It had given its recommendations to the state government on Thursday.
Additional Director General (Prisons and Correctional Services) Sunil Ramanand confirmed that the actual procedure to release prisoners on bail started across the state on Friday.
CP Bhagwat, secretary of Pune District Legal Services Authority, said, “Following the directions of the High-Powered Committee, the Pune court had called for lists of eligible prisoners. These cases were presented before the court and after reviewing them, release order of 79 prisoners of Yerawada prison has been given on Friday. We plan to complete the process for Pune by March 31.”
The first batch of inmates from Yerawada Prison is expected to be released on Saturday morning, said an official. The initial period of release will be 45 days, and this will be extendable by 30 days till the time state government withdraws the notification under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The released prisoners have been mandated to report at the local police station once every 30 days.
However, even on Friday evening, there was no clarity on how the released inmates, especially those who have residences outside the city the prison is located in, will go back to their homes amid the existing lockdown in the country. Jail officials said they were working on a mechanism towards it.
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