The Shillong District jail, while complying to the directive from the Supreme Court of India, released 94 prisoners from it’s jail to decongest the jail premises to prevent the spread of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the jail, officials informed on Wednesday, April 1. The step was taken after the decision was taken by the committee comprising of Meghalaya High Court judge as well as Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) executive chairman. The meeting took place between the Meghalaya High Court judge and MSLSA executive chairman, Justice H. S. Thangkhiew, on Tuesday in Shillong, when the decision to release the 94 inmates was taken, the officials added.
A statement released by the committee confirmed the news of release of 94 inmates from the Shillong District jail as well as 8 juvenile from boy’s observation home in Shillong. “On March 31, 2020, 94 prisoners were released from the District Jail, Shillong. They are from East Khasi Hills district,” read the statement.
On Monday, March 23, the apex court had given directives to the state governments to consider giving parole to prisoners with jail term of up to 7 years. As per the directive, the state governments and Union Territories (UTs) were asked to form a high powered committee to determine which class of prisoners can be given interim bail or sent on parole depending upon the severity of offence committed by them, the jail term, etc. The committee, as per the apex court’s directive, needed to include Chairman of SLSA, Principal Home Secretary and Director General of Prisons.
The apex court took the decision at the backdrop of spread of COVID-19 inside the congested prisons. The objective behind the decision was to decongest the prisons and curb the spread of the deadly virus inside the jail premises. The apex court also directed the jail authorities to restrict meeting between the inmates and their family members to video or telephone calls. Even screening of those inmates coming back from parole was also directed to be followed.