HC seeks details of bails, paroles from lower courts since jail decongestion orderUpdated: Jun 12, 2020 23:34 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed all subordinate courts in the state to submit details on how many applications for temporary bail or parole were decided by them as per the Supreme Court and state high-powered committee (HPC) guidelines to decongest jails in view of Covid-19 pandemic. The courts have also been asked to provide details of such applications filed and heard by them till Monday.
The HC also directed the state prisons department to respond on whether the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for testing asymptomatic and high-risk contacts of Covid positive patients were implemented in prisons across Maharashtra and directed it to provide details of standard operating procedure (SOP) followed for testing in prisons.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice SS Shinde, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) through video conferencing, was informed by senior counsel Mihir Desai that there was a genuine concern for the well-being of inmates after several inmates and jail staffers tested positive for Covid-19. The PIL, along with another filed by Archana Rupwate, sought various reliefs for prisoners.
On Friday, Desai submitted that though the SC and HPC had issued guidelines to decongest jails, trial courts were not deciding bail applications in a speedy manner and proper video calling facilities were not provided to inmates.
The state, however, submitted that facilities were being made available for inmates to communicate with their family members and lawyers with coin boxes and smart phones being made available at correctional homes across the state. The state also submitted that all correctional homes had made necessary arrangements to receive money orders or electronic transfer of money in the name of the inmate and such details were being displayed on the prison department’s website.
After hearing the submissions, the bench directed trial courts in the state to give details pertaining to total applications received by them for bail and parole and how many of them have been decided. Along with details of procedure followed for testing inmates, prison authorities are also expected to submit details of phone calling facilities provided to inmates to communicate with their relatives and lawyers. The court posted the matter for hearing on June 16.