Panel endorses extension of bails to 3,499 prisoners
The high-powered committee, constituted to decongest Delhi prisons, has recommended the extension of interim bails granted to 3,499 under-trial prisoners (UTPs) while stating that it was hopeful that the situation of Covid-19 would improve soon.
The committee, headed by justice Hima Kohli of the Delhi high court, said the sudden spurt of Covid-19 cases in Delhi shows that there is no certainty as to when the pandemic shall abate. It said if the interim bails of these 3,499 prisoners are not extended, then there is a risk that a “dangerous proposition” of them may end up bringing the infection into jails.
The committee said the Covid-19 situation has worsened during November, as compared to October, and though there was a slight reduction in new cases since November 11, the number of daily active cases is still very high.
“The committee is, therefore, of the considered opinion that no such chance/risk can be taken and thus resolved that interim bail granted to 3,499 UTPs needs to be further extended for a period of 45 days,” the minutes of the meeting held on November 28 said.
The committee also said a judicial order would be required for extension of bail while directing the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to place the recommendations before the high court registrar.
During the meeting, director general (Prisons) Sandeep Goel informed the committee that if the 3,499 UTPs and 1,183 convicts who have been granted “interim bail/emergency parole” are asked to surrender, then the total population of Delhi prisons is likely to reach 20,500, and it may become unmanageable owing to the present situation.
He said it would be appropriate if “interim bail/emergency parole” granted to 3,499 UTPs and 1,183 convicts is extended for a further 45 days.
The committee also extended the emergency parole of 1,183 convicts by six weeks, which was going to expire on or before January 9.
Goel said there is one active Covid-19 case in the Mandoli jail -- a minor child of a woman inmate. He said she has been admitted in GTB Hospital along with her mother.