Authorities at Delhi’s Tihar Jail on Saturday released over 400 prisoners to decongest prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic that has infected at least 929 people in India and caused 25 deaths, PTI reported.
An unidentified jail official told PTI that out of the total 419 prisoners, 356 were released on an interim bail for 45 days, while the remaining 63 were released on an eight-week emergency parole. More prisoners would be released over the next few days, the official added.
This was done after the the Aam Aadmi Party government amended prison rules last week to provide convicts the options of getting special parole and furlough to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections in crowded prisons. The amended prison rules provide for 60-day parole in case of unprecedented situations like an epidemic or a natural disaster or any other situation which mandates reducing of the population of the inmates.
The prison authorities on Monday had said they planned to release around 3,000 prisoners to avoid overcrowding at the time of a global health crisis. Dangerous criminals, however, will not be released, it added.
The decision comes days after the Supreme Court asked all states and Union Territories to set up high-level committees to consider releasing prisoners or undertrials on parole or interim bail if they are accused of offences entailing up to seven years in prison.
Earlier this month, the top court had observed that overcrowding in prisons across the country posed a risk amid the worsening health crisis caused by coronavirus. It said that while the government of India has issued an advisory for maintaining social distance, prisons across the country remain overcrowded. The court had issued show cause notices to prison authorities and social welfare departments of all states.