COVID-19: Plea in HC to extend emergency parole of aged and ailing prisoners

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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) A plea was filed in the Delhi High court on Wednesday 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 petition, which was mentioned through an online link and is likely to be listed for hearing on February 12, sought to defer the surrendering of prisoners above 65 years and suffering from comorbidities.

The petition filed by advocate and social activist Amit Sahni also said that in the interest of inmates and jail administration, the aged prisoners be directed to surrender after all other prisoners.

The plea 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.

It sought direction to the authorities that the prisoners, who are COVID-19 infected, should quarantine themselves at their place before surrendering.

It said the Delhi jails have a capacity to retain 10026 prisoners and presently around 14000 inmates are lodged there, excluding around 4000 of them which 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 plea 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 the undertrial should also be applied to the prisoners released on emergency parole.

It said DG Prisons, Tihar Jail, despite being a party to the proceedings in the Supreme Court and being aware that the matter is pending before the apex court, had issued a circular directing prisoners to surrender on their due dates with effect from February 7.

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