A high-powered committee, headed by a Delhi High Court judge, has recommended further extension of the interim bails of 2,177 undertrial prisoners as it would be dangerous to put them back in jail during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, was of the opinion that the interim bail of such prisoners needs to be extended by another 45 days from the date of expiry of the relief and a judicial order was required in this regard from the Delhi High Court.
In the meeting held on Tuesday (May 5), it directed the Member Secretary of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority to place the committees recommendations before the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court for necessary action.
The committee, set up on Supreme Court’s order to look into decongesting prisons and preventing spread of COVID-19 there, also resolved to transfer 100 more prisoners from Tihar Jail to Mandoli Jail here so that prison administration can “implement social distancing amongst the inmates of all three jail complexes”, including the one at Rohini here.
The prison authorities have already transferred 260 prisoners from Tihar to Mandoli and Rohini in accordance with an earlier resolution of the committee. During the meeting, the prison authorities told the committee that its earlier guidelines, instructions and resolutions are being strictly complied with and as a result they have been able to prevent spread of COVID-19 inside the jail premises.
The Director General (Prisons) told the committee that isolation wards have been created “to prevent the intermingling of new entrants with other inmates” and that the new prisoners are also thermally screened and medically examined.
The DG Prisons also told the court that the principle of social distancing was being followed scrupulously and common areas which are frequented by the inmates like bathing area, kitchen and jail telephone area “are being regularly cleaned and sanitised using appropriate disinfectant”.
The committee said it was satisfied with the steps being taken and directed DG Prisons to continue doing the same. It also directed the jail administration to ensure release of undertrial prisoners immediately on receipt of bail orders from the court and to ensure their safe transit to their respective homes as was recommended earlier by the committee.
The DG Prisons told the committee that till May 5, 3,573 undertrial prisoners (UTPs) and convicts have been released on interim bail or parole or remission of sentence. With regard to safe transit of the UTPs and convicts, released on bail or parole, the prison administration said the necessary steps have been taken.
On representations received regarding ensuring proper healthcare of pregnant women who are in judicial custody, the prison administration said they were being provided adequate medical care and special diet. The committee directed the prison administration to continue doing the same.