MAHARASHTRA HOME Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday evening announced that as part of COVID-19 prevention measures, the prison department will release 11,000 prisoners one-third of the 36,000 prison population from over 50 state prisons in the next few days.
Deshmukh said that those being released would include inmates behind bars for offences with punishment up to seven years. A senior jail official said that while a major chunk of hose being released would be undertrials, convicts who have in the past been granted parole and furlough will also be eligible for the emergency parole.
However, convicts who are serving sentence for serious offences like terror and major economic offences will not be eligible.
These parameters were laid down after a meeting of the high-powered committee set up by the state government following the Supreme Court’s order on Monday to decongest prisons in the wake of the spread of COVID-19. The parameters are likely to reduce the total number of inmates eventually eligible for emergency parole, from the number announced by the home minister.
An IPS officer said that it has been decided that inmates will be released, first for 45 days, which will be extended for another 30 days if the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, continues to remain in force. “This will be done after bringing in a notification citing the Act that is currently enforced in the state. Once the Act is withdrawn, the inmates will be expected back in prison. The technical formalities will begin on Friday and later the inmates will be produced before their respective courts, which will then grant them bail. The procedure should take a week’s time,” the officer said. Prisons in Maharashtra, specifically in cities, like Pune’s.