Jammu: Sixty-five prisoners, including 22 who were arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA), were released to decongest jails across Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. The information was given by the director general of prisons in a written report submitted to the division bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court here.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal, was hearing a PIL pertaining to spread of novel coronavirus through video-conferencing. The report pertaining to release of prisoners in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak was also pursued by the court.

The director general prisons, through his report, apprised the bench that as on April 7, pursuant to deliberations held by high powered committee, 22 Public Safety Act detenues, 32 undertrials, nine under trial prisoners falling under section 107,109,151 of the CrPC have been released and sanction for parole has been granted to 19 other prisoners. The court was informed that two prisoners have already been released on parole and all the steps for ensuring the health of the detenues whether lodged in Jammu and Kashmir or outside the UT and their protection from COVID-19 infection are being taken.

On March 30, the Jammu and Kashmir government had constituted a high-powered committee to decide about the temporary release of convicts and under-trails to decongest jails across the Union Territory in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The division bench directed the Department of Health and Medical Education to make available adequate equipment of every kind for the use of health care personnel and all other personnel involved in any aspect of COVID-19 issue.

The court directed the department to file a report regarding procurement of more equipment as also creation of isolation wards, sample collection, processing and screening areas as per established protocols. The division bench directed the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir to constitute a committee within four days to examine all aspects relating to the matter, including the impact of the pollen and fluff from the poplar trees.

The court directed that the committee thus constituted shall forward its report to the Department of Health & Medical Education as well as to the Forest Department, which shall consider the report and place their view before the chief secretary and thereafter, the chief secretary shall file his final recommendations in the court. (PTI)

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