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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Current issues in india 2021 :- COVID-19 Parole

Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states have started releasing prisoners on parole after the Supreme Court ordered states to decongest jails to contain the spread of coronavirus. These include those sentenced to imprisonment for seven years or less.
  • Relaxation in bail norms by a high-powered committee in Delhi has led to the release of over 400 inmates of Tihar Jail while Uttar Pradesh has granted bail to 11,000 prisoners.
Main point:
  • Referring to the data of National Crime Records Bureau, the Supreme Court has said in its order that there are about 466084 prisoners in 1339 jails in the country, which is 117.6% more than the capacity of the jails.
  • It is noteworthy that in the year 2010 during the UPA government, the then Law Minister Veerappa Moily started the program of releasing undertrials on parole/bail on charges of minor offenses with the aim of decongesting the prisons.
Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure:
  • Under this, a prisoner can be released on bail or parole if he has completed half the period of punishment prescribed in law for his alleged crime. However, this benefit is not available to those undertrial prisoners who are accused of indulging in an offense punishable with death or any other express provision.
More than the capacity of undertrial prisoners in jails:
  • Significantly, about 82% of the prisoners in Delhi's Tihar Jail and possibly across India are undertrials.
  • The Delhi High Court has accepted that these prisoners fall under the accepted jurisprudence of punishment of less than seven years of age and indulging in bodily harm considered non-heinous.
  • At present, a major challenge before the jail administration is to reduce the number of undertrial prisoners with the help of the judiciary. For which the following steps are being taken-
  1. New jails are being constructed to decongest the crowd.
  2. To record the appearance before the court under the undertrial at a reasonable time so that the trial does not take much time due to the absence of the prisoner.
  3. Special courts are being organized regularly in the Tihar Court premises to deal with minor offenses where one has to confess his crime before the magistrate in the court on every third Saturday.
  4. The trial court is being resorted to in the case of seriously ill prisoners to be released on bail as per law.
  5. Directions have been issued to the jail superintendents to ensure that no prisoner is taken into custody unnecessarily by the staff due to error in the matter in terms of release warrants.
  • At the same time, the principle of executive privilege is being followed in respect of convicts to give punishment within one to six months.
  1. It reflects a standard and balanced approach, both of which emphasize the need to combat crime and prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • However, the fact accepted by the Delhi High Court raises questions on the tracking of prisoners released on bail. While most prisoners will comply with their bail conditions and regularly report to the local police stations, there will be some who will not comply with the bail conditions and reporting to the local police station.
Release and tracking of prisoners:
  • Even under normal circumstances, there is no reason and rule for the police and jail authorities to track the prisoners released on parole or out on bail as it is impossible to track them.
  • Prisoners have a legal obligation to comply with the conditions of bail/parole. Under which they are being released, therefore the responsibility of acting according to the law rests entirely on them.
  • The release order is liable to be canceled outright if any of these conditions are breached. And it may become a point of denial of bail against the person in future.
Prison Statistics-2018 Report
  • According to this report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, out of 31297 prisoners released on parole, the number of absconders was only 343 (1.1%). While the police was successful in arresting 150 of them.
  • Reports show that almost 99% of prison inmates comply with parole conditions. Apart from this, the police administration has been able to track down the few remaining absconding people.
Techniques for tracking prisoners:
  • Techniques can be used to track prisoners and report them to local police stations at regular intervals to report their current activities to local police stations and ensure that they remain under pressure while under self-monitoring, So that they remain guilt-free and maintain peace.
Preventing community spread of COVID-19:
  • The release of jailed prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic is a positive step from a medical point of view as the isolation of prisoners as opposed to the concentration of migrant workers will play an important role in preventing the community spread of COVID-19 in India.
Conversion of jails into quarantine wards:
  • The free space in jails after prisoners released on parole/bail can be used as safe quarantine wards for prisoners falling under the category of heinous crimes. And the risk of community spread of COVID-19 can also be reduced.
Conclusion:
  • The country is currently under a 21-day lockdown and a major part of the government machinery is busy implementing and quarantining measures, as a result of which the activities of citizens are already restricted. Lockdown related measures can help track the movements and behavior of released prisoners.
  • In a situation where the whole society is living under fear, such a decision and high moral values ​​are expected from the government towards the fundamental rights of prisoners.

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