Around 400 prisoners set to be released from Model Jail Chandigarh on Special Parole as per directions of the High Powered Committee

Around 400 prisoners set to be released from Model Jail Chandigarh on Special Parole as per directions of the High Powered Committee

THE VOICE OF CHANDIGARH:

The meeting of the High-Powered Committee for UT Chandigarh was held under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jaswant Singh, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh and Executive Chairman, State Legal Services Authority, U.T., Chandigarh and was attended by Arun Kumar Gupta, IAS, Principal Secretary Home Department, U.T., Chandigarh and Ombir Singh, IPS, IG Prisons, UT, Chandigarh and Puneesh Jindia, Member Secretary, SLSA, UT, Chandigarh.

The meeting was held as per directions issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 07.05.2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.1/2020- In RE: Contagion of Covid-19. Considering the directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India dated 07.05.2021 as well as directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Arnesh Kumar Vs. The state of Bihar, (2014) SSC 8 273, the Committee resolved as under

Regarding release of convicted prisoners the High Powered Committee has directed that 4 categories of Prisoners are to be considered

1. Those convicts who are at present on parole should be granted Special Parole for 90 days.

2. Those convicts who have previously availed Special Parole, as per the orders of High Powered Committee in the year 2020 andsurrendered in time,should be granted fresh 90 days Special Parole (as a one time measure only) on the same set of sureties, if the sureties so consented, and without holding fresh inquiry. Further, in case new sureties are required (in case consent not given by the old sureties or otherwise), then, on fresh sureties but should be without holding fresh inquiry in order to attain expeditious release on Special Parole.

3. Those convicts who have previously availed Special Parole, as per the orders of High Powered Committee in the year 2020 and surrendered in time and who are also facing trial in other cases, shall be considered for release on 90 days Special Parole (as a one time measure only) after verification by the office of D.M. concerned, if they are on bail in those pending case(s).

4. Those convicts who have not availed parole or special parole till date and who have now applied for parole or will apply for special parole, then, the District Magistrate concerned is hereby directed to process all (pending as well as new) application liberally and sympathetically, on urgent basis and preferably within 07 days from, and latest within 10 days of, the receipt of the application.

The following categories of prisoners shall not be granted Special Parole:

The following category of convicts/prisoners, even if they are falling in the above criteria, shall not be released on Special Parole:–

                        (a) The convicts/prisoners who are foreign nationals.

                        (b) The convicts who are confirmed or suspected cases of Covid, or are kept under observation for Covid, or who can cause infection if released, in such cases the Jail Authorities shall follow the latest guidelines of Health Department in this regard. However, in future, they may be considered for the benefits of Special Parole on the basis of their medical reports.

            (c) The convicts who have violated the Parole or special parole conditions and have been re-arrested during last six months.

It has been further decided by the High Powered Committee that the period of release under aforesaid directions shall not be counted towards the total period of the sentence of the prisoner/convict. Further, the Jail Superintendent shall obtain declaration from the convict to the effect that he/she shall not claim counting of the period of special parole against the total period of sentence at the time of applying for special parole itself.

Number: At present there are 302 Convicted Prisoners in Model Jail Chandigarh as per table given below:

PAROLE DETAILS OF TOTAL CONVICTS (302).

Convicts who have not availed any parole till date : 103
Convicts who have availed parole from time to time : 164
Convicts who were rearrested after absconding parole : 003
Lodged with pending cases; Bad Conduct; Restricted under Sections : 025
Foreign national and high risk prisoners : 007
Convicted prisoners who are presently on Parole : 017

Of the 302 convicted prisoners, an estimated number of 164 + 17 + 45 = 225 i.e. roughly 70% of convicted prisoners will benefit from the said order (70%).

Regarding release of undertrial prisoners the High Powered Committee has directed that the following categories of Prisoners are to be considered for 90 days special interim bail, preferably on furnishing personal bond:–

(A)       The case is triable by Magistrate; and

(B)       The undertrial is a first time offender, or The undertrial is arrested and facing trial in only one case for which the maximum prescribed sentence is 07 years or less, or The undertrial is having 02 or more pending cases for which maximum prescribed punishment is 07 years or less.

The following Undertrial Prisoners are not to be considered for Special Interim Bail:-

The undertrials who are foreign nationals shall not be released on special interim bail even if they fall in the aforesaid criteria.

At present there are 625 undertrial prisoners of which it is estimated that roughly 160 undertrial prisoners are those who have cases for which for which maximum prescribed punishment is 07 years or less who will benefit from the said orders.

The High Powered Committee also passed some Special Instructions whereby Superintendent, Model Jail, Chandigarh shall ensure necessary medical examination(s) of the prisoner availing benefits in terms of the aforesaid directions at the time of release from jail as well as at the time of his readmission into the jail premises, in order to avoid spreading of COVID 19 or any other communicable disease(s). Also the Committee said that in case any prisoner is not willing to be released in view of his/her social background or due to the fear of becoming victim of the deadly virus, in such cases, the Superintendent, Model Jail, Chandigarh is directed to be considerate to the concerns of such inmate.

Further to avoid the spread of the virus it has been directed that regular testing of prisoners as well as prison staff be conducted, The Committee also directed that the Superintendent, Model Jail, Chandigarh shall take necessary steps for immediately arranging special vaccination drive in the jail premises for all the prisoners as well as prison staff.

The High Powered Committee also passed some other directions regarding maintaining order in prison which included undertaking counselling and informing prisoners about the steps being taken to prevent infectious disease of coronavirus. Also, the prisoners are allowed to talk to their family members through Video Conferencing or Jail telephone.

Further, the District & Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, UT, Chandigarh is advised to interact with jail authorities through Video Conferencing as and when so required by the Superintendent, Model Jail, Chandigarh (who is the Nodal Officer). Lastly, the Committee directed that the Superintendent, Model Jail, Chandigarh to submit his weekly compliance report as to aforesaid directions to the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, UT, Chandigarh every Monday.

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