New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea for passing suitable directions through which the High Powered Committees (HPC) in states can order release of prisoners on account of risk of spread of Covid-19.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian was hearing a plea by NGO National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), challenging the Bombay High Court’s decision to uphold Maharashtra HPC’s recommendation to not release on emergency parole prisoners convicted for offences punishable with less than seven years under special Acts such NDPS Act, UAPA, MCOCA etc.
The Bombay High Court had ruled that the HPC can impose additional conditions for releasing prisoners.
On March 23, the apex court, against the backdrop of Covid-19, had asked states to constitute HPCs to decide the release of prisoners on interim bail while considering the gravity of the offence committed and the length of the jail term. The NGO alleged due to Covid-19 spread in various prisons, as many as 10 prisoners have died so far.
The plea contended despite the HPC’s orders, many continue to languish in jails in Maharashtra.
The bench said: “We will pass a reasoned order. We will observe that thee HPC will be at liberty to change its norms as per changing conditions.”
The plea, filed through lawyer Vipin Nair, contended that the HPC had classified prisoners and suggested release of 17,642 undertrial prisoners.
The NGO, through its National Convener Medha Patkar, moved the top court seeking reconsideration of these undertrial prisoners for temporary release on interim bail.
“Reconsider the cases of 11,000 convicted prisoners for temporary release on emergency parole pending the final hearing of the matter as per the classification of the prisoners done by the HPC and pursuant to the decision of the Government of Maharashtra as announced by the Home Minister, by way of press release dated March 26, if they are yet to be released,” the plea said.
The NGO contended that the apex court should seek a report from the state authorities whether the prisons are able to maintain social distancing as per WHO norms.