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Freedom? No, thank you, say convicts

The SC had stated that a high-powered committee should be constituted, which would decide on those who could be released.

Published: 09th April 2020 05:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th April 2020 05:51 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: The famous 13th century Sufi mystic and Persian poet Jalaluddin Muhammed Rumi wrote -- “Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?” He was perhaps inferring to freedom from repressive thinking. However, centuries down the line, here is a case of prisoners who have turned down the offer of freedom, perhaps because of the uncertainty that lies beyond the ‘safety’ of iron gates in times of extreme health and economic stress.

In Karnataka, 183 convicts have expressed their unwillingness to go on parole even though they are found to be eligible by the high-powered committee, which was set up on March 26 in pursuance of the Supreme Court directives. Parole is temporary or permanent release of a convict before the completion of his prison sentence on the promise of good behaviour. On March 23, the apex court had asked states and the Union Territories to consider release of under-trial prisoners and convicts charged or convicted for crimes, where maximum punishment is less than seven years, with or without fine, to decongest the prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The SC had stated that a high-powered committee should be constituted, which would decide on those who could be released. “The state government, in accordance with the Supreme Court directive of March 23, has released 904 prisoners from the various central and district prisons. Out of these, 646 are undertrial prisoners, who have been released on interim bail and 258 are convicts, who have been granted parole,” said Alok Mohan, Director General of Police and DG, Prisons & Correctional Services. He added that 183 convicts, who are eligible for parole, have expressed their unwillingness to make use of it.

“The jurisdictional courts in the districts have granted interim bail to 646 undertrial prisoners based on the recommendations of the district committees, which are headed by district and sessions judges. The high-powered committee is headed by Justice Aravind Kumar of the Karnataka High Court. He is also the Executive Chairman of the State Legal Services Authority,” said Mohan. The committee comprises DG, Prisons, and Principal Secretary, Prisons, Umesh Kumar. Those released on interim bail or parole will be watched by their jurisdictional police to prevent their escape.



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