NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed prisoners in Kerala who were released on parole in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to surrender back to their respective jails within two weeks.
"... Near normalcy has returned in the country and daily activities remain unabated. The benefit that was granted to the petitioners to continue on parole due to the possibility of their contracting Covid-19 shall continue for a period of two weeks from today, All the petitioners are directed to report back to the prison within the said period," Justice L Nageswara Rao headed bench said.
During the course of the hearing, the top court asked the state of Kerala about the covid situation there. The state counsel said that everything is fine. He added there is no restriction anymore and colleges and schools are all open and functional. While referring to the state report filed by the state, the court remarked that there is no covid in jail and they will have to go back and there is no reason for them to continue on parole.
In February this year, the court had asked the Kerala government to not insist on the surrender of prisoners already out on bail or parole due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The apex court in a March 2020 order had directed states and union territories to constitute a high-powered committee to determine which class of prisoner can be released on parole or interim bail. The committee recommended the release of prisoners who have been convicted for a period of more than 10 years. The top court has been extending the order to extend the parole from time to time. The petitioners had approached the top court stating that they are being asked to surrender despite being released in pursuance of the recommendations of the high-powered committee.
The petitioner in the main matter before the bench had completed 14 years in jail and was also released on parole due to the pandemic and came to the court after being asked to surrender back to jail. The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the state's order asking prisoners to surrender back to jails.
(With agency inputs)