The National Commission for Women Wednesday issued an advisory to all State Director General and Inspector General of Prisons, raising the issue of women’s wards in prisons and correctional homes in the country in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and has demanded that bail applications be taken up on a priority basis in order to decongest the prisons.
“Since the number of under-trials women prisoners, languishing for a long period, is very significant, one way to decongest the women wardis to ensure prompt legal action to get them released on bail. This matter, therefore, should be taken up with State Legal Services Authority (SLSA)/ District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and it should be ensured that the Bail application in respect of all the women under trials is placed before the Competent Court with positive recommendation from the prosecution side, keeping in view the current situation,’’says the NCW advisory.
The NCW has gone on to say that even in cases where the under trials have been charged with non-bailable offences, leading to a penalty of death or life imprisonment, needs to be processed for bail under proviso to the Section 437 (1) (ii) of Cr.Pc., which provides for special dispensation to women and children below the age of 16 years in the matter of grant of bail.
“Action for release of the convicted prisons on parole, leave etc., may also needs to be considered favourably,’’says the NCW. In its advisory, the NCW has pointed out that earlier recommendations made by the agency regarding women inmates be implemented immediately as well as immediate action be taken to decongest the overcrowded women wards of the prisons, provide them beds with enough moving space in between the beds or in cases where raised platforms are provided in close vicinity, occupancy should be arranged in a manner that the norm of social distancing is maintained.
Provisions are to be made to maintain cleanliness including bed sheets, pillow covers, pairs of clean uniform/clothes, sanitary napkins, under garments, basic cosmetics, soap in enough quantity, detergent for washing clothes, shampoo, hair oil, tooth paste/brush, toilets and baths with running water, and all female inmates are to be given masks, gloves and sanitisers.
The agency has further recommended the augmentation of health care services in the prisons, as well as video conferencing facilities of the inmates with their family members.
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