Author: Akshaya Mittapally ,3rd year student at ICFAI Law School,Hyderabad and Sanjeevani Dixit, 3rd year law student at Institute of Law, Nirma University.
A brief history of the case, supreme court has passed an order to all of the states to release prisoners to reduce risk of covid 19 either via interim bail or parole. The Sc has ordered the states and union territories to establish a HPC with the objective of limiting the number of prisoners who can be released. The order which has been exceeded, states that the prisoners who have been convicted or charged with offences entailing as much as 7 years prison term can be considered to give parole or interim bail.
Medha Patkar, social media activist has filed a plea in Supreme Court in search of guidelines to the centre and all states and union territories to take instantaneous steps for formulating a mechanism to decongest prisons throughout India by way of granting the release of prisoners above age of 70 through bail or emergency parole, to ensure protection of the prisoners. On record advocate Vipin Nair filed this plea, the World health organization declared that older people have a higher risk of getting infected by the virus, and for the people who have underlying medical conditions.
In line with the National Prisons informational portal as on may 16, the variety of prisoners over 70 years of age in all prisons, except for Manipur,Lakshadweep and Maharashtra. Besides Maharashtra, Mizoram, Bihar, no different states have considered the discharge of older persons above 70 years amid the pandemic.  The condition in a few states like Gujarat and Rajasthan are the worst in this regard, although the HPCs of Rajasthan and Gujarat have directed the release of Prisoners Pursuant to the guidelines of the court, there is a need to discharge the elder persons primarily based on this danger of the contamination, the plea stated.
The plea has referred to article 21 of the constitution, and prayed the court to formulate a method for release of the elderly prisoners to release, throughout the country through interim bail or emergency parole.
As per the prison statistics, by National Crimes Record Bureau, 19.1% of the total prison convicts in India are 50 years and above. As a result of this the social activist Medha Patkar decided to go to the Supreme Court, for issuing of the guidelines to the Centre, the States and all the Union Territories so as to take an immediate action in this regard and release the prisoners who are 70 years and above, either on parole or bail for safeguarding their interests.
In the author’s opinion there must be certain directions to be issued for the benefit of these people, as they are the ones who are most vulnerable to the COVID pandemic. These directions should not be for all the people belonging to this particular category. But the decision must be taken after taking into consideration the situation of the person, gravity of the crime, facts and circumstances. The High powered committee must also consider their susceptibility to the ongoing pandemic, but they must strike a balance between the gravity of the crime along with their vulnerability as there is every chance that they might get affected by the infection. The author is in favour of the argument given by the plea that the chances of committing crimes reduces with the increase in age. As per the right to health which is enshrined in the article 21, of the Constitution, they must be released.
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