The Madras High Court has directed prisons to allow inmates to interact with their lawyers via video calls or even by meeting physically in places where covid cases are on a decline. The bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy also directed that the orders of the High powered Committee should be uploaded on government websites for public access.
During the hearing, a report submitted by the state indicated that a Covid care centre was launched in Puzhal Central correctional home, and in other prisons, the number of Covid positive cases is not alarming. The report stated that undertrials, are in the process of being released on parole or leave to avoid overcrowding. It has been stated that there are 7 women with children in correctional homes and out of them, 4 are convicts and steps are being taken to give them leave. Further, the Union Territory of Puducherry has 200 inmates out of which 64 had tested positive for covid which was a cause ofr concern as per the court.
However, the court was informed that out of the 200, only 150 remain as some were given parole and other were hospitalized for treatment and the prison has capacity of 300.
The court took into consideration the suggestion made by the amicus curiae SC Vaigai and directed that the decisions taken by the High Powered Committee (HPC) with regards to categories of prisoners to be released and setting out parameters for parole should be uploaded on government websites. The court also directed that the process of temporary release of the inmates should be expedited so that the crowding in the correctional homes is brought down to the extent possible.
An intervenor submitted before the court that all contact between inmates at correctional homes and advocates have been stopped while contact with family is maintained. The court took note of this and observed, “Since there are video conferencing facilities and, in any event, there are video calls possible by way of mobile apps, the authorities at all correctional homes should permit interaction between advocates representing the inmates and the relevant inmates upon setting down certain parameters in such regard.”
The matter will next be heard on June 3.
Courtesy: Sabrang India
The order may be read here: