Prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Saturday said it will approach the Supreme Court seeking conditional bail or parole to eligible prisoners lodged in jails across India in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani said the Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the matter in March and asked all state governments to set up a committee to consider bail or parole to inmates in jail on humanitarian grounds, but so far many state governments have not taken action on this.
The health department has directed that social distancing is the only effective way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but it is impossible to do so in prisons as they have more prisoners than their prescribed capacity, he said in a statement.
He said the Jamiat will file a plea in the Supreme Court in this regard.
Citing the example of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail, Madani said the families of inmates and officials are worried after many of them tested positive for COVID-19.
According to information, around 103 inmates and officials who tested positive for COVID-19 are being treated at different hospitals in the city, he said.
The Arthur Road Jail has a capacity of around 800 inmates, but about 2,600 prisoners are currently lodged in the prison, Madani said.
The Supreme Court in its order of March 23 had directed the states and union territories to constitute high-powered committees which could decide which prisoners may be released on interim bail or parole during the pandemic.
The court has said that the purpose of the order was to prevent overcrowding of prisons so that in case of an outbreak of coronavirus in the prisons, the spread of the disease is manageable.