Haryana: Prisoners released on parole in wake of COVID-19 to be sent back to jail

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Chandigarh, Feb 16 (PTI) The convicts who were released on parole from jails in Haryana in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be sent back behind bars, officials said on Tuesday.

In the light of the declining numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state, a high-powered committee constituted for dealing with the spread of the disease in prisons has decided not to extend the parole of the convicts any further.

A meeting of the committee regarding the process of return of the convicts to jails was held in Narnaul on Tuesday, an official release issued here said.

Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department Rajeev Arora; Director General of Prisons K Selvaraj; and District and Sessions Judge, Member Secretary, Haryana State Legal Services Authority Parmod Goyal, among others, attended the meeting.

The committee recommended that all convicts surrender at prisons. The entire process shall be carried out in a phased manner, the release said.

The jail authorities have been directed to re-admit the prisoners according to the criteria set by the committee.

The jail authorities and health officials have been directed to coordinate with each other to follow all protocols during the re-entry of prisoners into jails, the release said.

Jail officials have been directed to take all precautionary safeguards to avoid infection which include wearing masks, sanitising hands, following social distancing, etc. during the visit.

In addition, the committee has allowed jail authorities to transfer prisoners from one jail to another only on security grounds or in view of COVID-19 issues.

In the meeting, it was also decided that the prisoners who were released on parole/furlough from February 1, 2021 onwards shall also surrender on the expiry of the period of parole/furlough granted to them by the competent authorities, the release said.

Earlier, to avoid the risk of infection inside jails, meetings between prisoners and their family members were suspended. The committee has permitted the meetings from Monday to Friday.

Now the undertrials will be able to meet their family members twice a month, while the convicts will be allowed to meet once a month.

Notably, the committee was constituted in March 2020 by the state government in accordance with the Supreme Court's directive to decongest crowded prisons to prevent them from becoming fertile ground for COVID-19 spread.

A total of 2,580 inmates were released from jails in the state, according to the release.

As of Monday, Haryana had recorded a total of 2,69,154 COVID-19 cases. The death toll in the state stands at 3,039. PTI SUN DIV DIV