COVID-19: Issue Of Interim Bail, Parole Pending In Top Court; Not Inclined To Hear, Says High Court

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The Delhi High Court Thursday said it was not inclined to entertain a plea seeking extension of emergency parole of prisoners who are above the age of 65 and prone to COVID-19 infection due to some ailments and medical conditions, as the issue is pending before the Supreme Court.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Jyoti Singh disposed of the petition saying, “We do not wish to keep this matter pending in view of pendency of a similar matter pertaining to extension of interim bail, emergency parole/ furlough to the prisoners before the Supreme Court.”

The court granted liberty to petitioner lawyer Amit Sahni, a social activist, to approach appropriate authorities whenever such need arises.

“In view of these facts, we see no reason to entertain this petition at this stage,” the bench said.

The petition has sought to defer the surrendering of prisoners above 65 years and suffering from co-morbidities and submitted that in the interest of inmates and jail administration, the aged prisoners be directed to surrender after all other prisoners.

Mr Sahni submitted that due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court has extended the emergency parole of prisoners and has directed that inmates, who have already been released on interim bail by virtue of it orders and on the basis of recommendations of High-Powered Committee, should not be asked to surrender till further orders.

The plea said social distancing was not feasible and possible in jails here as they are already overcrowded and the prisons have been extremely affected by the pandemic.

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

It has said the Delhi jails have a capacity to retain 10,026 prisoners and presently around 14,000 inmates are lodged there, excluding around 4,000 of them which were released on interim bail or emergency parole.

The petition has 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.

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