[Covid 19] Kerala Prisoners On Parole Due To COVID-19 To Surrender Within Two Weeks

The apex court said there is no right to stay on parole forever and it has to stop somewhere.

The Supreme Court on Friday directed prisoners out on interim bail or parole due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in prison to surrender before the respective jails in Kerala within two weeks. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and PS Narasimha noted that the COVID-19 situation has improved and there exists no reason to permit them to continue on parole.

The apex court said there is no right to stay on parole forever and it has to stop somewhere. "It's not that you can stay out of jail for the next five years," the bench said.

In its order, the apex court stated, "Near normalcy has returned in the country and daily activities remain unabated. The benefit that was granted to the petitioners who continue on parole, due to a possibility of contracting COVID-19, shall continue for a period of two weeks from today. The petitioners are directed to report back to the prisons within the same period." In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the top court took suo motu cognizance petition of the issue of overcrowding in prisons and by the order of March 23, 2020, it directed the States and Union Territories to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or interim bail.

After overall scrutiny, the committee recommended the release of convicts sentenced to imprisonment for less than 10 years, on parole. In 2021, taking into account the prevalent situation in Kerala regarding COVID-19, the State government had considered granting bail to even those who were convicted for a period of more than 10 years.

In February 2022, the top court asked the state to instruct authorities to not take coercive action against people who are out on bail and parole. Today, the order of the apex court came on a batch of pleas challenging the Kerala government's order asking prisoners to surrender back to jails.

One of the petitioners, Dolphy, who had completed 14 years in prison and was released from the prison on parole, approached the Supreme Court after being asked to surrender back to jail despite the poor pandemic situation in the state. 


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