Kerala frees 568 prisoners on parole to decongest jails, more to be released soon

Jail visits too go online, prisoners to 'meet' relatives via video calls

Thiruvananthapuram: As part of efforts to decongest jails in view of the second wave of COVID-19, as many as 568 prisoners, lodged in various prisons across Kerala, have been released on parole.

Besides them, 932 other convicted prisoners may also be released temporarily soon while around 350 remand prisoners would be freed on interim bail, according to official sources here.

The decision was taken based on a recent Supreme Court directive ordering the immediate release of prisoners with an aim to avoid overcrowding in jails in the wake of the unprecedented spread of the pandemic.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, on May 8, said all those who were allowed to go out on bail in March last year by the high-powered committees of states and Union Territories (UTs) during the first wave of COVID-19 be granted the same relief now also without any reconsideration to avoid delay.

On March 16, 2020, the top court had on its own taken cognisance of overcrowding of prisons across the country and said it is difficult for jail inmates to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

State jail DGP, Rishiraj Singh said the high-powered committee, appointed by the apex court, has ordered 90 days parole for prisoners who have been convicted.

Interim bail has been granted to the remand prisoners, who are not habitual offenders and have no criminal background and those punished for offences for which prescribed punishment is up to 7 years or less, with or without fine and those convicted for a lesser number of years than the maximum, he said.

High Court judge, Justice C T Ravi Kumar, home secretary T K Jose and DGP Rishiraj Singh comprise the High- Powered Committee (HPC) in Kerala, set up as per directive of the top court.

Those who had been given parole based on a state government order, issued on May 5, would also be eligible for the apex court-granted parole, he said.

Besides them, parole may also be granted to those, who were not involved in narcotic or any other such anti-national activities and male inmates aged above 60 years and female prisoners aged above 50 years.

"Thus, over 1,500 prisoners, including 568 people released on parole the other day, will get temporary relief. Besides them, around 350 remand prisoners may also be released on interim bail," the Jail DGP said here.

Singh directed various jail authorities to implement the HPC's order with immediate effect.

He also directed the prisoners, who are released, to comply with the COVID protocol completely while going outside and stay safe at their homes.

Over 6,000 prisoners are lodged in a total of 54 jails, including three central jails in Kerala.

(With PTI inputs)

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