Social distancing in wake of COVID-19: Over 12,000 to be released from MP jails

Milind Ghatwai
madhya pradesh jail, mp jail convicts to be released, covid 19 socail distancing, mp covid 19 social distancing, indian express

While jail authorities decide parole for convicts, the decision on bail will be taken by various district courts. (Representational Image)

More than 12,000 prisoners lodged in different jails across Madhya Pradesh are likely to be released in the next few days in the wake of the Supreme Court order to decongest prisons in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

The court order will benefit convicts and undertrials whose offences are punishable with a maximum jail term of five years.

Jails in MP accommodate nearly 45,000 prisoners against the capacity of 29,000. The decision to release the convicts on parole and undertrials on interim bail was taken by a high power committee comprising the chairman of the state legal services authority and top jail officials in a video conference.

While jail authorities decide parole for convicts, the decision on bail will be taken by various district courts. In a letter on March 27, jail superintendents were asked to collect applications from undertrials and forward their details within three days to the courts, which will decide these on merit in four days.

DG (Jail) Sanjay Chaudhary said convicts will be granted parole upto 60 days using a provision to grant emergency parole. The convicts who were already eligible for parole will benefit from it. Men over 65 years of age, women over 50 years and women with children under six years of age will get preference.

More than 7,000 convicts will benefit from the parole, including 5,000 who would have been released on parole this year. “Once we get confirmation from the state government, the first batch of convicts will be released,” Chaudhary said.

The undertrials will get interim bail of up to 45 days. National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) guidelines covering 11 categories of undertrials will be used to release them. Undertrials who have spent more than half the period of their likely sentence; those accused of compoundable offences, those released on bail but unable to furnish sureties; those who are sick or infirm, and women offenders, are among those who will benefit.

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