Delhi govt amends prison rules, introduces emergency parole
In the wake of the nationwide lockdown for 21 days amid the COVID-19 crisis, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government has amended the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018, to introduce the provision of "Emergency Parole".
The newly introduced parole will be granted for up to eight weeks in addition to the regular parole being granted as per the existing rules.
A notification from the Delhi Home Department read, "In the wake of emergent situations like threat of epidemic, natural disaster or any other similar circumstances which warrant immediate easing of population of inmates in the prison, and in order to secure the interest of inmates, the prison administration, and the society at large, the Government may grant up to eight weeks parole in one spell in addition to the regular parole as provided in these Rules."
Further, it shall be the discretion of the Government to decide whether the period spent by the prisoner outside the prison on this emergency parole shall be counted towards the sentence of the prisoner or not, the notification said.
The move comes after the Delhi government recently informed the Delhi High Court that it was going to amend its prison rules to provide the options of special parole and furlough to eligible prisoners in order to decongest the prisons in the wake of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The submissions were made on Monday by Delhi government's additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal while a division bench of the high court headed by Justice Hima Kohli was hearing a plea moved by two lawyers seeking decongesting of the prisons in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The petition seeking release of all the inmates above the age of 50 years or otherwise not medically fit, undergoing imprisonment for petty and minor offences, to protect them from being infected by the killer virus.
"... the corona virus is spreading at a very fast rate and if a proper precaution is not taken, then many more fatalities may occur. That the prisons in Delhi are already overcrowded and a single case of 'coronavirus' can affect the entire population of the prison - inmates and the staff - both. That the Government and Courts, both within and outside the country, have taken measures to prevent crowding to avoid the spread of 'corona'," the plea said.
The petitioners are not seeking unconditional release of inmates, but that it be made conditional i.e. upon furnishing bail bonds and other undertakings and sureties as may be imposed by the Court, the plea stated. IANS