SRINAGAR — As the COVID-19 pandemic across Jammu and Kashmir, jails in the Union Territory continue to hold prisoners beyond their capacity, data reveals.
Earlier on Sunday, 72 out of 479 inmates at the Udhampur Jail tested positive for COVID-19.
The jails across the union territory are overcrowded as 4572 inmates were lodged in them as on May 10, against their overall capacity of 3426.
At present, J&K has 13 functional jails which include two central jails, nine district jails, one special jail and one sub-jail. Earlier, the UT had two sub-jails but one of them was denotified and declared as a holding centre for lodging Rohingya refugees.
On March 5 this year, the UT Home Department de-notified Hira Nagar sub-jail and declared it as a holding centre under the Foreigners Act.
The disclosure that J&K jails are overcrowded has come to the fore at a time when the Supreme Court of India has directed the states/UTs to decongest prisons in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19.
In 2020, the Supreme Court had also passed similar directions after the outbreak of COVID-19. On the Court’s directions last year, the J&K government constituted a high-level panel headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal to decide on the category of prisoners to be released.
The panel decided to grant special parole of eight weeks to all those who have been convicted in one case only and have spent more than ten years (eight years in case of women) in jail, except those involved in militancy-related cases, convicted for intermediate or large quantity recovery under NDPS Act or convicted under POCSO Act or convicted for offence against woman, or convicted for offence of acid attack or foreign nationals.
It had also directed the authorities to consider the release of all those who have been sentenced to imprisonment for three years with or without a fine and the conviction has been upheld by the Appellate Court but revision against the judgment by Appellate Court is pending before the High Court.
Similarly, in the case of under-trial prisoners, the panel proposed to the government to grant them 60 days’ interim bail, extendable for another period in case the circumstances so demand, on furnishing surety and personal bond. (KNO)