The Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered the release of a section of convicts, undertrials and those in jail for failing to pay fines in order to unclog prisons in Uttar Pradesh amid the surge of coronavirus cases, ANI reported.

Judicial officers have been directed to release them on a parole or on final bail. The court also extended relief period of prisoners who are already on parole by another 60 days.

The decision came after the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh last week wrote to acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Sanjay Yadav on the matter, Live Law reported. In the letter, council Chairman RK Agarwal urged for interim bail or parole to those facing trials or have been sentenced to a jail term of seven years, or less.

Agarwal, in his letter, pointed out media reports “indicating doubling of infection during the last two weeks” after several inmates tested positive as Covid-19 protocols were flouted in jails.

“The need of the hour in such unprecedented circumstance of the pandemic calls for consideration of interim bail/ parole for the under trial/ convict, not based upon legal considerations arising out of statutory right for bail, but more in the nature of human right to safeguard the life and health of the prisoners,” Agarwal wrote, according to Live Law.

On May 1, the former Rashtriya Janata Dal MP from Bihar’s Siwan, Mohammad Shahabuddin, died in a Delhi hospital after testing positive for coronavirus while in Tihar Jail. This was a day after the Centre asked states to “earmark appropriate health facilities” for prison inmates who test positive for the coronavirus and cannot be treated at a hospital within the jail premises.

On April 28, the Supreme Court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift journalist Siddique Kappan from Mathura Jail to a government hospital in Delhi after a plea was filed, citing that he had contracted the virus.

Earlier, gangster Chhota Rajan was admitted to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences after he contracted the infection. Jailed Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Mukhtar Ansari and Samajwadi Party leader Mohammad Azam Khan have also tested positive for the virus.

Besides this, reports of prisoners getting infected have emerged from Chandigarh and Madurai too.