Interim Freedom For Prisoners In Odisha Amid Coronavirus

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government released 60 under-trial prisoners (UTPs) on bail from various jails across the state in view of COVID-19 threat. The process of shifting about 856 convicts to less congested jails will also conclude soon.

Till Thursday, as many as 1,727 UTPs were lodged in different prisons of the State.

The action came a day after the state government decided to decongest jails and constituted a high-powered committee to decide on the category of prisoners to be released. 

The High Court has directed weekly undertrial review committee meetings to be held in all the districts to decide about release of UTPs involved in offences having imprisonment of less than seven years.

District authorities will facilitate the movement of the released prisoners. The committee has also asked the Collectors to expedite parole decisions.

UTPs will be produced before the courts via video-conferencing. Family members of the inmates lodged in the district headquarter jails can avail permission from jail superintendents to interact via a particular video chat application or telephone calls.

Directions have been given to provide immediate treatment to unwell inmates, distribution of masks and sanitisers inside the jails. Chief District Medical Officers have been asked to conduct check-ups of prisoners and create awareness in jails about measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

It may be recalled that a high-powered committee was formed by the Odisha government on the directive of the Supreme Court to issue guidelines for decongestion of jails. 

Among the categories of prisoners to be considered are convicts having no pending undertrial cases and sentenced for a term of seven years or less; convicts, who are already on parole or furlough and those above the age of 65 years. 

Granting of parole may be considered by the competent authority for those who are 70 years old or above and vulnerable to the possibility of contracting COVID-19 infection, the guidelines issued by the committee said. 


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