Madhya Pradesh High Court instructs high-level committee

the The High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Monday May 10 observed that, considering that all prisons in Madhya Pradesh currently house prisoners almost double their capacity, the need of the hour is to decongest them immediately.

The bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Judge Atul Sreedharan observed in a Suo Moto Writ petition initiated in view of the unprecedented situation facing the country and Madhya Pradesh following the second wave of COVID-19.

In view of the extraordinary situation prevailing in the state and in light of the Supreme Court order dated March 23, 2020 in In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Prisons, the Court found it appropriate to order the Respondents to submit to the High Level Committee the following suggestions from the Director General of Prisons and the scholar Amicus Curiae:

For the condemned:

Prison authorities should consider granting emergency parole of at least 90 days under normal conditions to the following categories of prisoners:

  • All male prisoners over the age of 60; ii. All female detainees over the age of 45;
  • All female prisoners, regardless of their age, who are imprisoned with their minor children;
  • All inmates who are pregnant, regardless of length
  • All detainees, on the basis of a medical certificate, reported suffering from cancer, serious heart disease such as:
  • (I)undergone bypass surgery,
  • (ii)valve replacement surgery,
  • (iii)HIV,
  • (iv)Cancer,
  • (v)Chronic renal dysfunction (PTU requiring dialysis),
  • (vi)Hepatitis B or C,
  • (vii)Asthma,
  • (viii)Tuberculosis and
  • (ix)bodily incapacity of 40% or more;

For prisoners awaiting trial:

  • The director of the relevant prison should, in respect of prisoners awaiting trial, who are tried for the offense punishable by up to a maximum of seven years, with or without a fine, obtain their requests for provisional release and forward them to the district and session judge concerned, who will have them examined and decide within four days for their release on provisional bail for at least a period of 90 days, on the execution of the bond and the bond, as deemed appropriate;
  • The prison superintendent, with respect to prisoners under trial, who are covered by the SOP issued by the National Legal Services Authority in December 2018, obtain their requests for provisional bail and forward similarly the relevant Sessional Judge, who must have the same examination and decided within four days for their release on provisional bail for at least a period of 90 days, on the execution of the bond and the bond, if this may be deemed appropriate. In this regard, assistance from the District Legal Services Authority may be requested if necessary;
  • However, the following category of prisoners awaiting trial cannot be considered for provisional / provisional bail: – a. those awaiting trial, who are currently in detention for an offense they committed during the period of provisional release previously granted to them; and B. those who have been tried, who have been granted provisional release on the basis of previously adopted criteria, but who did not surrender in time in accordance with the bail order and who were placed in in detention, following the execution of a warrant of non-release. The high-level committee meeting for this purpose will be convened on May 12 at a time set by the executive chairman of the MP State Legal Services Authority, either in physical or virtual mode, if deemed possible.

In addition to the foregoing, this Court finds it appropriate to issue the following directions:

  • The defendant / state authorities will periodically subject all prisoners to an RT-PCR test, once every fortnight, in order to detect and separate those who test positive for corona.
  • All new prisoners, before being housed in a prison, should first be subjected to an RT-PCR test and kept in a separate room until they have tested negative.
  • If a prisoner covered by any of the aforementioned categories for his parole or provisional release, or otherwise, is found to be corona positive or suffering from any other disease, he may receive treatment at the nearest government hospital.
  • The defendant / state authorities should also obtain details of any minors housed in the children’s home or in conflict with the law, held in re-education / rehabilitation centers and submit them for RT-PCR testing once. every fortnight, in order to screen and separate those who are found positive for the crown.
  • If a prisoner is found detained in prison due to his inability to pay the fine imposed, the State Government must take steps to waive this fine and ensure his release as soon as possible.
  • Prison authorities must submit the data of those inmates on trial who are tried for offenses exclusively trialable by the court of first instance to the high-level committee for review.
  • Respondent State authorities should allocate all detainees in prisons according to the age group of 18-45 years and those over 45 years for their priority vaccination and record the action plan for their vaccination.

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Bernice Dyer

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