The Supreme Court on Saturday passed a detailed order amidst the surging second wave of Covid-19, which stated that the “police should not arrest the accused unless necessary in crimes sentenced with less than seven years of imprisonment”, and also directed authorities to ensure that proper medical facilities are provided to the inmates.
The decision come in order to decongest the prison amidst the rise of cases of deadly virus in view of the "alarming" and "threatening" situation of the pandemic in the national capital
The high-powered committees created by the state governments and Union territories have been asked to identify and release the vulnerable categories of prisoners on an urgent basis.
The Supreme Court also directed that prisoners who were granted parole last year should again be given a 90-day furlough in order to tide over pandemic.
The order said “In addition to considering fresh release, should forthwith release all the inmates who had been released earlier pursuant to our order dated March 23, 2020 by imposing appropriate conditions. Such an exercise is mandated in order to save valuable time."
The court stated that steps should be taken to control the spread of Covid-19 by conducting regular testing of both prisoners and jail staff and immediate treatment should be made available to them.
The court also noted that some prisoners might not be willing to be released in view of their social background and the fear of getting infected with the virus.
India has over four lakh prison inmates and some prisons are already congested. In this regard, the court may notice that the requirement of decongestion is a matter concerning health and right to life of both the prison inmates and the police personnel working.
The prisons in Delhi are congested with double their capacity of prisoners, it jeopardised the necessity of observing social distancing, which is needed to prevent the spread of virus amongst the inmates.