COVID Parole

Supreme Court: The Bench of MR Shah* and CT Ravikumar, JJ has directed that all those under trials/convicts who were released on Emergency Parole/Interim Bail pursuant to the recommendation of the High-Powered Committee, in compliance of the Orders passed by the Supreme Court, have to surrender before the concerned prison authorities within 15 days.

The Court, however, made clear that thereafter after the concerned prisoners/inmates surrender before the concerned prison authorities it will be open for the concerned undertrials to pray for bail before the competent court and their applications be considered in accordance with law and on its own merits. Similarly, after the surrender by the concerned convicts who are released on Emergency Parole it will be open for them if so advised to pray for suspension of sentence before the concerned Court in their appeals which might have been pending which also may be considered in accordance with law and/or on merits.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the World with full force, the Supreme Court, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus among prisoners in over-crowded prisons, passed an Order dated 23.03.2020 directing each State/Union Territory to constitute the High-Powered Committee to determine the class of prisoners who could be released on Parole or on interim bail on such conditions, as may be determined by the High-Powered Committee.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)| Overcrowding of prisons is serious concern; Consider releasing prisoners on parole/bail: SC to States/UTs

Hence, a High-Powered Committee was constituted in Delhi to determine the category of prisoners i.e. convicts and under-trial prisoners for being released on Emergency Parole and Interim Bail.

The Court observed that, it is not in dispute and cannot be disputed that all those undertrial prisoners/convicts were released on interim bail/emergency parole taking into consideration the overcrowding in the prisons and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus among prisoners in over-crowded prisons. All those undertrial prisoners/convicts therefore were not released on merits but were released on the aforesaid ground alone. Therefore, now when the COVID-19 situation has now been normalized, all those prisoners/inmates/undertrial prisoners/convicts who are/were released on emergency parole/interim bail have to surrender before the concerned prison authorities.

[In Re: Contagion of Covid-19 Virus in Prisons, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 333, order dated 24.03.2023]

*Judgment by Justice MR Shah.

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah

Appearance before the Court by

For, Director General (Prisons), New Delhi: ASG Aishwarya Bhati;

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