GUWAHATI: Around 2,300 prisoners – about 2,200 under-trial inmates and 100 convicts – have been released from the 31 jails of Assam on personal sureties since March 26, 2020. The move is in sync with the recent order issued by the Supreme Court of India as an exercise to decongest the overcrowded jails in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
After the Supreme Court’s order the State government has formed a high-power committee that scrutinizes lists of under-trial prisoners and convicts being given by jails authorities for their release on personal sureties.
According to rules, under-trial prisoners with offences that may prescribe seven-year or more imprisonment can be released on bail based on the gravity of their crimes. The convicts, on the other hand, can be released either on annual leave or parole.
Inspector General of Prison Dasharath Das said, “Proper social distancing is being maintained in the jails in the State. New under-trial prisoners aren’t allowed to mingle with the inmates directly. They’re quarantined for 14 days first after conducting medical examinations.
“The total capacity of the 31 jails in the State is 8,938. Generally, the number of inmates exceeds the capacities of the jails, leading to overcrowding. However, the balance has been struck now after the release of around 2,300 inmates. Additional barracks in almost all the jails are near completion. That’ll solve the problem of overcrowding. “
The SGBG (Save Guwahati, Build Guwahati) has expressed concern over the rise in petty crimes in the State due to, what it said, release of under-trial prisoners from jails. Reacting to this, the IG (Prison) said, “While releasing an under-trial prisoner, we send all documents related to him to the police station concerned. According to rules, an under-trial prisoner released of personal surety has to report weekly to the police station which he belongs to. And the police station concerned has to keep vigil on him.
“In the event of an under-trial prisoner released on personal surety threatens any of the witnesses, he is taken to custody immediately. And if they’re found involved in committing crimes, they are imprisoned again.”
The IG (Prison) has further said that even though it doesn’t come under his jurisdiction, the Border Police has informed him of releasing around 250 declared foreigners from the detention centres of the State in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.