126 released on parole in May to decongest Jharkhand jails in Covid time

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Ranchi, Jun 3 (PTI) In a bid to decongest overcrowded prisons of Jharkhand for containing the spread of coronavirus, 126 prisoners have been released on parole in May following a recent Supreme Court order, an official said on Thursday.

The 30 jails of the state have around 21,000 inmates against a capacity of 16,900.

'We released 126 eligible prisoners on parole for 90 days last month in the wake of Supreme Court direction,' the official said.

Between January and April, 10 prisoners were given parole in the state.

Another senior official said that to decongest prisons in the state, a new jail has been set up at Barhi in Hazaribag with a capacity to accommodate 300 inmates.

This is in addition to the states 30 jails, of which seven are central jails, 15 district jails, seven sub-jails and one open jail.

Another jail with a capacity to house 325 prisoners is likely to come up by July 15 at Nagar Utari in Garhwa, he said.

Besides, some 1,200 prisoners have been shifted to less crowded jails from overcrowded ones to decongest the prison, he said.

Jail superintendents were earlier asked to furnish the list of prisoners who may be eligible for bail or parole as per the apex court order.

Taking note of the 'unprecedented surge' in Covid-19 cases, the Supreme Court on May 7 ordered immediate release of prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year amid the pandemic to decongest jails.

The court had observed that decongestion of prisons housing around 4 lakh inmates across the country is a matter concerning 'health and right to life of' prisoners and police personnel.

The apex court earlier asked all states and union territories to constitute High-Powered Committees (HPC) to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and under-trials for offences entailing up to seven-year jail term to decongest prisons in the wake of the pandemic.

The HPC in the state comprising Justice AK Singh of Jharkhand High Court, Principal Secretary Home Rajiv Arun Ekka and IG Prisons Birendra Bhushan had met on May 17 to review the situation, sources said.

It decided that 90 days of parole can be sanctioned to eligible prisoners while the period for those already on parole can also be extended. PTI NAM NN NN