A number of murder inmates have prompted the Supreme Court to challenge a notice from the Maharashtra government ordering all inmates released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to report to prisons for serving the remaining part of their punishment.
As many as 49 murder convicts, who were released on parole in May 2020 due to COVID-19, have approached the Supreme Court over a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state.
They are serving life sentences in Nashik, Aurangabad, Amaravati and Kolhapur prisons and are being released on parole after prison authorities considered their plea for release.
They challenged the state’s May 4, 2022 circular requiring all detainees who had been granted temporary parole or bail to surrender within 15 days.
On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court suo motu took note of prison overcrowding and ordered each state to establish a High-Powered Committee (HPC) to identify and release inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among inmates in prisons.
The government of Maharashtra had issued a notice on May 8, 2020, based on an HPC recommendation, stating that convicted prisoners with a maximum sentence of more than seven years are eligible for parole upon request.
Senior attorney Colin Gonsalves, who appeared before convicts on Friday, asked for an urgent hearing of their plea to a vacation bench from Judges AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath. The bank posted their plea for a hearing on Monday.
Mr Gonsalves said COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Maharashtra, posing a new danger to the lives of these convicts who were in overcrowded prisons.
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