Social Activist Medha Patkar Challenges Bombay HC Verdict
Medha Patkar has approached the Supreme Court for interim release of prisoners charged under Special Acts amid COVID-19.
Medha Patkar challenges Maharashtra's classification of prisoners to be released on emergency parole
Medha Patkar and her organization, National Alliance of People's Movements, along with social activist Meera Sadanand Kamath have filed a plea in the Supreme Court. The plea claims that out of 28,642 prisoners to be released, only 10,467 prisoners have been released till date. This is due to the additional conditions imposed by the Maharashtra High Powered Committee.
The plea filed in the Supreme Court challenges the August 5 judgment of the Bombay High Court. In the said judgment, Bombay High Court upheld the State's classification of prisoners who were to be released on emergency parole in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
States were directed to constitute HPC to set criteria for release of prisoners on emergency parole
All States were directed to constitute a High Powered Committee for the release of prisoners on interim bail or emergency parole after the rapid rise of COVID-19, in pursuance of the March 23 order of the top Court. This is why Maharashtra State High Powered Committee (HPC) was constituted.
The committee gave directions that all persons who are accused or convicted of offences punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or less shall be released on interim bail or emergency parole as the case may be.
HPC kept prisoners jailed under Special Acts outside the purview of its classification
The High-Powered Committee held that the directions would not apply to the prisoners who are accused of offences under the Special Acts or of serious economic offences. These Special Acts provide for additional restrictions on grant of bail in addition to those under the Code of Criminal Procedure. This is why emergency parole was denied.
Medha Patkar moves SC against Bombay High Court's verdict
In her plea, she has urged the top Court to:-
- reconsider the case of 17,642 undertrial prisoners lodged in jails of Maharashtra for temporary release on interim bail, pending the final hearing in the matter.
- to reconsider the release of 11,000 convicted prisoners for temporary release on emergency parole who have the final hearing of the matter pending.
- to direct the State government to conduct swab testing of all the prisoners and prison staff in those prisons in the State of Maharashtra where COVID-19 has been detected.
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