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Government of NCT Delhi tells DelhiHC that its Home Department proposing to issue a Notification under the Delhi Prisons Rules to introduce 60 days parole and a special furlough to prisoners in situations of natural disaster or an epidemic which warrants immediate easing of inmate population.

The proposal of the Government was made while the Division bench Division bench of the HC of Delhi consisting of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonum Prasad was hearing a petition seeking temporary release of inmate of Tihar, Mandawali and Rohini Jail in the light of the threat created by COVID-19. The petition also sought to segregate those inmates who are ailing and provide them with proper medical facilities.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Shobha Gupta calling attention to the conditions of prisons in Delhi. The petitioner has submitted that in view of the advisory issued by the Government directing social distancing to be maintained, it is necessary that the ccupancy rate of the prisoners in jails in Delhi be brought down at the earliest to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the prisons.

The petitioner further informed the bench that as on that the occupancy rate  of the prisoners in Jails in Delhi is 17,000 as against the holding capacity of 10,000 prisoners at one time.

The bench taking note that the Supreme Court has already taken suo motu cognizance of the need to take preventive steps to prevent contagious spread of COVID-19 virus in prisons of India has called upon the Chief Secretaries, Home secretaries , Director Generals of all prisons and the Union government to explain the steps being taken by them to deal with the health crisis, therefore there was no need to take cognizance of the matter at the micro level.

The bench however has directed the Govt of NCT Delhi and the Delhi Police to implement its decision. The bench further said that the undertrial prisoners would be at liberty to apply for interim bails in accordance with law.

-Shaheen Parween

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