OBSERVING THAT allegations of bribery against jail authorities were “serious”, the Aurangabad bench the Bombay High Court has directed the chief judicial magistrates of all the districts under its jurisdiction, in Marathwada and northern Maharashtra, to visit various jails and inquire if prisoners were made aware about their rights and ascertain if orders of the state government, pertaining to emergency parole and furlough in view of Covid-19 pandemic, were followed without seeking any “gratification” or “imposing unreasonable conditions”.
A division bench of Justices Tanaji V Nalawade and Mukund G Sewlikar passed these directions on September 28 while hearing pleas by two inmates of Aurangabad Central Jail, filed through advocate Rupesh Jaiswal, seeking directions to jail authorities to decide their emergency parole applications. The petitioners also alleged there was a delay by jail authorities in deciding their pleas due to “corruption”.
The petitioners sought relief as per May 8 notification issued by the state Home department that amended the Maharashtra Prisons (Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959, and allowed prison authorities to release inmates except those booked under special laws on emergency parole, in view of the Supreme Court guidelines to decongest jails.
The magistrates have been directed to ascertain whether jail authorities were strictly complying with these directives along with the high court orders granting temporary release of prisoners. They will also have to inquire with every prisoner to see if he or she was informed about the right to avail emergency parole, and whether jail authorities had refused to accept applications.
The HC bench also asked magistrates to probe if any “gratification” was sought from prisoners, or any indirect conditions were imposed by authorities, to deny the benefit of emergency parole. The names of prisoners are “required to be kept secret”, and only if some of them are willing to give complaints, their names can be disclosed.
Jail authorities have been directed to provide information to the magistrates about the number of prisoners present in their jail along with the number of prisoners being granted or refused benefit of emergency parole.
Seeking reports from magistrates within three weeks, the bench posted further hearing on October 27
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines