Social distancing not feasible in jails, says representation in Delhi HC

A Delhi lawyer has approached the Delhi High Court against overcrowding in jails in the country, contending that prisons in the national capital having 80 per cent more inmates than their capacity, and social distancing is not feasible there.

Pointing out that Delhi jails have been extremely affected by the pandemic’s impact, the representation made by advocate Amit Sahni said that “social distancing” is required to be maintained in cells or barracks, where prisoners are lodged.

However, despite releasing about 4,000 prisoners on interim bail or emergency parole, Delhi jails are still overcrowded and at present, about 14,000 prisoners are lodged in Delhi jails, it stated.

In case of these prisoners surrender, then the situation may worsen in Tihar Jail and the same would be detrimental and adversely affect prisoners and jail administration as well, it added.

The representation sent to the Chief Justice of Delhi, the Central and Delhi governments, and DG Prisons stated that premature release of female and transgender prisoners above 60 years, male prisoners above 65 years, and infirm prisoners (excluding life convicts) may kindly be considered in terms of recommendations of All India Committee on Prison Reforms (Mulla Committee 1980-83) and Model Prison Manual – 2003 and such prisoners be released after undergoing one-third of their actual sentence (including remission).

It said that despite the recommendations of Mulla Committee (1980-83) and Model Prison Manual -2003, in the larger perspective of the prison welfare keeping in view the overall objective of protecting the society and rehabilitating offenders with specific reference to basic needs and provision of facilities compatible with the dignity of life and recommendations made for the specialised treatment of women, old aged and infirm prisoners, such recommendations are not implemented by jails in the national capital.

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