Pune: The Supreme Court-mandated high power committee (HPC), headed by a Bombay high court judge, has told subordinate courts across the state to decide on pending interim bail pleas of 12,751 jail inmates by May 20 as part of the measures to decongest jails and avert Covid-19 infection.
Justice A A Sayed chaired the meeting while home department’s additional chief secretary (appeals and security) Anand Limaye and additional director general of prisons Sunil Ramanand attended.
The HPC considered the rise in Covid19 cases because of the second wave, overcrowding of inmates in state jails and police arresting large number of criminals in contravention of the guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in the case of Arnesh Kumar v/s the state of Bihar, while framing guidelines for decongesting jails.
Ramanand said, “The interim bail pleas have not been pending for a long time. After the first two HPC meetings were held last year, large number of under trial prisoners (UTPs) had applied for interim bail pleas before the courts. Most UTPs were not given bail. And there was a lull in filing bail pleas.”
He told TOI, “Many states had recalled inmates released on interim bail and emergency parole in November-December last year. But Maharashtra is one of the rare states which decided not to recall the inmates. This is because the Epidemic Disease Act is in force and unless the notification issued under the Act allowing release of inmates on bail and parole is not withdrawn, we cannot recall the inmates.”
The prisons chief said after the second wave started, he instructed all jail superintendents to write to principal district and session judges in all districts to hold UTPs review committee meeting. Instructions were also issued to UTPs to apply for interim bail through the jail authorities.
This exercise started on April 24 and till date they have received 12,751 bail pleas of UTPs involved in offences having punishment of more than 10 years. They have also received 4,000 bail pleas from UTPs involved in criminal cases with punishment up to seven years. The 16,751 pleas have been forwarded to the review committee for taking decision.
“All 60 jails including nine central jails like Yerawada and Arthur road are extremely overcrowded, there is space vacant for housing 230 and 900 inmates in Jalna and Nashik jails respectively. I have appointed deputy inspector general of prisons Yogesh Desai to look into the issue of shifting inmates from crowded to lesser crowded jails in the days to come,” he added.