Prisoners already released by HPC should not be asked to surrender until further notice: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that all prisoners who have been released by state high-level committees following the COVID pandemic in accordance with the May 7 order in the suo motu case not be invited to surrender until further notice.

The highest court also ordered all state governments to submit a report to it by next Friday detailing how the May 7 ordinance was implemented and the criteria adopted by the HPCs to release prisoners in emergency parole taking into account the COVID situation.

The bench observed that there are no uniform criteria across states. States must explain whether they have taken into account factors such as age, co-morbidities when granting parole. States should also explain whether prisoners whose appeals are pending in higher courts have also been considered for release by the CHP.

The court also asked the secretary of the National Legal Services Authority to gather details from the states. The matter will be considered again on August 3.

A panel of three judges from CJI NV Ramana, Judge Nageswara Rao and Judge AS Bopanna heard their suo motu case concerning the decongestion of prisons during the Covid pandemic. Senior lawyer Dushyant Dave, the amicus curiae in the case, told the judiciary that there was no information available on how the May 7 order had been implemented by different states. The amicus curiae has also asked the court to prevent states from asking released prisoners to surrender for a period of time due to the threat of a third wave of the COVID pandemic.

The order of May 7 was adopted by a bench of three judges led by the Chief Justice of India in the suo moto In Re Contagion of COVID Virus in Prisons case in which a multitude of instructions were issued for decongest prisons during the second wave of the pandemic.

Last year, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court ordered the formation of high-level committees in all states to consider the release of convicts and sub-trials for less heinous offenses. on provisional bail or on parole in order to decongest the prisons.

The Supreme Court had suggested that the CHP might consider the release of prisoners who have been convicted or are being tried for offenses for which the prescribed sentence is 7 years or less, with or without a fine and the prisoner has been sentenced for fewer years than the maximum.

The CHPs were to consist of (i) the Chairman of the State Legal Services Committee, (ii) the Principal Secretary (home / prison) whatever designation is known as, (ii) the Chief Executive Officer of the or prisons.

When the pandemic began to recede in November-December last year, many Hautes Cours / HPC canceled the provisional bail and asked the prisoners to surrender.

The Supreme Court clarified on June 1 that the establishment of high-level committees in state governments to decongest prisons would not prevent remission commissions from considering requests for the release of prisoners under Articles 432 and 433A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. .

A vacation bench comprising judges L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose had clarified that the ordinance adopted on May 7 – which enjoined CHP to consider granting parole or provisional bail to identified categories of prisoners to decongest prisons during the pandemic – will not affect the functioning of the surrender commissions.


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About Bernice Dyer

Bernice Dyer

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