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States Should Not Ask Prisoners Already Released By HPCs To Surrender Until Further Orders: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that all prisoners who the High Powered Committees (HPCs) of States released during the second wave of COVID-19 pursuant to the May 7 order in a suo motu case shouldn’t be asked to surrender until further orders.

The 7th May order was passed by a Bench headed by the Hon’ble CJI NV Ramana in a suo motu case, wherein the Court issued directions regarding decongesting the prisons during the second wave of the pandemic.

The Court was hearing the suo motu case regarding reducing congestion in prisons during the pandemic.

A Three Judge special bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice A.S. Bopanna said, “Under the circumstances, we deem it fit to direct the Member Secretary of the National Legal Services Authority as well as the Member Secretaries of respective States Legal Services Authorities to collect information from the different States/Union Territories and submit a report to this Court on or before 22¬7¬2021, stating clearly the norms/criteria adopted by the different State Governments/Union Territories, i.e., whether in the norms adopted, they have taken into consideration the age of the convicts and/or co-morbidities suffered, if any, at the time of recommending the release of the prisoners from jails.”

The Report should also indicate whether the convicts whose appeals are pending consideration, have also been considered for release, pursuant to the directions passed by this Court from time to time. The States/Union Territories concerned in these matters shall also clarify the above stated aspects in their respective affidavits.

Further the Court stated that those prisoners who have already been released on bail from the prison by virtue of Orders passed by this Court from time to time and on the basis of recommendations of High Powered Committees constituted for the purpose are concerned, they shall not be asked to surrender to the prison, until further orders.

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