Jail authorities gear up for return of bailed prisoners

Jail authorities gear up for surrender of prisoners released on bail amid Covid-19

Delhi Prisons comprises Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli jails and the current population of prisoners lodged is around 16,000

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

Over 6,700 prisoners, who were released either on interim bail or parole in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, will now have to surrender in a phased manner at a temporary jail set up near Mandoli here after the Delhi High Court decided to put an end to the bail extensions granted to them.

Once the prisoners surrender, those who test negative for coronavirus will be quarantined for 15 days and those who test positive will be sent to a hospital or a a Covid care centre.

The temporary jail has been set up in a police colony near Mandoli jail in northeast Delhi. It has 300 flats and can accommodate 2,000 people. At least six inmates would be put up in each flat which has two bedrooms with dinning space keeping in mind social distancing norms, Director General (Delhi Prisons), Sandeep Goel, told PTI.

The Delhi High Court on October 20 had said that all undertrials whose bail period was extended prior to and during Covid-19 lockdown have to surrender in a phased manner between November 2 and November 13.

The court also said that the order would also be applicable to 356 prisoners who were granted bail by the high court and they would have to surrender before jail authorities on November 13.

Citing the high court order, Goel said that with inmates set to return, jail authorities have made massive arrangements and taken adequate precautions to ensure safety in order to combat the further spread of coronavirus.

"According to a high court order issued on October 20, we are expecting around 2,200 inmates to surrender in a phased manner from November 2 to November 13. Out of them, 356 prisoners are those who were granted bail by the high court and would have to surrender before jail authorities on November 13," he said.

Goel said all these prisoners who need to surrender from November 2 to November 13 would have to directly surrender at the temporary jail.

"All prisoners who are set to return as per their date of surrender would be kept in a temporary jail in Mandoli for first 15 days. After their quarantine period is over, they would be shifted to their respective jails. While they surrender, they would be first tested for Covid-19 through rapid antigen test and if there results are negative, they would be allowed inside our temporary jail where they would be quarantined," he said.

In case anyone of them test positive for coronavirus, the prisoner would be either shifted to a hospital or a Covid care centre by jail authorities under police guard and would still be considered surrendered, the officer said.

However, in case if anyone tests negative for the virus but still has fever or is unwell, then that inmate will be kept in isolation, he said.

Delhi Prisons comprises Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli jails and the current population of prisoners lodged is around 16,000, the jail authorities said.

A data shared by the Delhi Prisons on October 28 said out of the 96 inmates who had tested positive for Covid-19, 86 have recovered, two died and there are presently eight active cases.

Besides, out of the 235 prison staff who tested positive, 214 have recovered and there are presently 21 active cases.

According to jail authorities, out of the 5,500 inmates released on interim bail in view of the pandemic, 3,337 inmates were released on the basis of criteria set by the High Power Committee (HPC)

In its order, the high court had said that a decision on the surrender of all those prisoners who have been granted bail on the recommendations of the High Power Committee, would have to be taken by HPC within 10 days.

The Director General (Delhi Prisons) said that following a meeting, the HPC has recommended to the High Court to extend the interim bail of 3,337 inmates for 30 days and so these prisoners who were granted bail on the recommendations of the HPC will not have to surrender now.

Accordingly, the surrender of 3,337 prisoners will begin with effect from December 5, he said.

It has also been decided that 1182 inmates who were out on emergency parole and had to surrender from November 1 will now have to surrender only from November 29.

"Those 1,182 sent on emergency parole had to surrender on November 1 but the Delhi Prisons has requested the government to extend their date of surrender by four weeks. So, as per the decision taken, they will now have to surrender from November 29," Goel said.