Bengal to release 63 life convicts to decongest prisons during Covid-19 pandemic
The Mamata Banerjee government on Monday said it had ordered the release of 63 life convicts from prisons in West Bengal, considering the need to decongest jails to protect inmates from Covid-19 pandemic.
“There was a need to decongest the prisons because of the prevailing Covid-19 situation. Section 432 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) empowers the state government to consider the premature release of life convicts who have already served 14 years in jail,” a senior official of the state government said on condition of anonymity.
The state sentence review board recommended the release of these life convicts on humanitarian grounds considering their age and their conduct among other things. The officer said 61 male convicts aged above 60 years and two female convicts aged above 55 years were among those to be released after completion of formalities.
“While the total holding capacity of our correctional homes is around 21,500, there are around 23,000 – 24,000 inmates in jails across the state,” said an official of the jail department. At present, there are 60 correctional homes in Bengal including seven Central prisons, five special jails and one women correctional home among others.
The daily count of Covid-19 cases in West Bengal crossed 20000 in mid-May after the assembly elections ended, but it is now less than 1000. On Sunday, the state registered 701 cases. Till date, the state has registered more than 1.5 million cases, out of which nearly 11,000 have died.
Earlier in May, taking note of the rising Covid-19 cases in the country, the Supreme Court directed decongestion of prisons across the country and ordered release of all prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year in view of the pandemic.
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