COVID-19: Lawyer writes to DHC CJ to extend emergency parole of aged and ailing prisoners

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) An advocate has written a letter to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court seeking extension of emergency parole of prisoners who are above the age of 65 years and prone to COVID-19 infection due to some ailments and medical conditions.

The lawyer, in his letter sent to Chief Justice D N Patel through electronic mode, said social distancing is not feasible and possible in jails here as they are already overcrowded and the prisons have been extremely affected by the pandemic.

Advocate and social activist Amit Sahni said he has come to know that the jail authorities have been asking prisoners, who were earlier released on emergency parole, to surrender at Mandoli Jail with effect from February 7, and they will be quarantined for certain period before being shifted to the concerned jails.

“Though the state government claims to have made adequate arrangements but social distancing in jails cannot be maintained in strict sense due to overcrowding,” the letter, which was sent on February 4 evening, claimed.

It said Delhi jails have a capacity to retain 10,026 prisoners and presently around 14,000 inmates are lodged there, excluding around 4,000 who were released on interim bail or emergency parole.

Sahni also referred to the Supreme Court’s January 21 order extending the stay on October 20 last year of the Delhi High Court by which interim bail granted to undertrials in view of the COVID-19 pandemic was put to an end and they were directed to surrender on various dates.

The letter said as the matter is scheduled to come up for hearing before the apex court on February 25, the directions issued by the top court relating to extension of interim bail to undertrials should also be applied to the prisoners released on emergency parole.

A similar letter has also been sent to Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain.

“The situation in Delhi jails is not such that one room/ barrack can be provided to each infected prisoner because a number of inmates are lodged together in a single barrack/ room,” it said.

It said the risk of severe illness increases with age due to coronavirus, so the prisoners be directed to surrender in a phased manner -- age, disability and medical condition of prisoners.

“The jail administration considering the overall situation must be directed that the prisoners above 65 years of age and those who are suffering from ailments be not asked to surrender for a further period of eight weeks because senior citizens are prone to infection,' it said.

'Further the prisoners who have misused the liberty of emergency parole may be denied such benefit,” it said. PTI SKV RHL