Punjab to release 6000 prisoners amid COVID-19 crisis

Around 6000 prisoners are set to be released to decongest jails in Punjab to check spread of COVID-19.

The convicted prisoners will be released on parole for 6 weeks and the undertrials on interim bail for 6 weeks, said the state’s jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

There are around 24,000 prisoners lodged in 24 jails across the state against capacity of 23,488. As per recommendation of the high powered committee set up by the Supreme Court, the main purpose of the decongestion exercise is to protect the prisoners’ health by restricting transmission of the deadly virus that has gripped the world.

The prisoners already out on parole will be granted a 6-week extension to ensure quarantining of jails. As a one-time measure, the concerned Jail Superintendents have been empowered to process the cases of parole.

An under-trial will be considered for a 6 week interim bail, if he/she is facing one or two cases, in which maximum punishment is seven years or less. Special cases under certain heads of crime such as Section 498-A, 420, 406, 324, 325, 379 IPC, Excise Act and those under section 107/151 CrPC will also be considered for the bail.

Camp courts shall be held on jail premises itself for grant of interim bail.

However, those convicted or charged under POCSO Act, 376 IPC, 379-B IPC, acid attack, UAPA, Explosives Act and foreign nationals will not be considered for release. Also, conditions have been put on for those covered under NDPS Act cases.

The high powered committee has relaxed the conditions further for release of prisoners suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, HIV, pregnant women and those above 65 years of age.