New Delhi: Over 600 eminent citizens, such as former Supreme Court Judge Justice P B Sawant, historian Romila Thapar, danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, politician Brinda Karat are among 660 intellectuals, activists, lawyers and others, who have written to the Maharashtra High Powered Committee (HPC), seeking temporary release of political prisoners, such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen and others in times of COVID-19.
The letter comes at a time when COVID-19 positive cases in Maharashtra have crossed 50,000, with many cases in Mumbai jails, including Byculla, where two of these people are lodged.
The letter has appealed to the HPC to “consider the applications of all prisoners, including all other political prisoners, within a perspective of a public health crisis and all cases for temporary release must be examined adhering to the principle of equality before the law and equal protection before the law.”
The letter pointed out to the authorities that both Bharadwaj and Sen are elderly prisoners, with co-morbidities that puts them at especial risk for COVID disease. Bharadwaj, a well-known lawyer and trade unionist, taught at the National Law University in Delhi, while Sen is a feminist scholar and was the head of English Department at Nagpur University.
“The letter urges the Committee to apply the golden rule of the presumption of innocence for all, especially given the feeble evidence in this case, and recommend the temporary release of the two prisoners,” a press release issued by the signatories read.
Read the full memorandum here: