By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 27 Mar: In compliance with the orders issued by the Supreme Court on steps to decongest prisons in view of the Corona pandemic, the Uttarakhand High Court has constituted a high powered committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on bail or parole for an appropriate period in order to reduce overcrowding in jails. According to an order issued by the High Court on Thursday, the High Powered Committee would comprise the Executive Chairman of the State Legal Authority as Chairperson and Principal Secretary, Home, as well as DG, Prisons, as members. The Committee would decide the parameters to be adopted for release of prisoners on parole or interim bail till such time as would be deemed appropriate by the Committee, in order to decongest the prisons. It may be recalled that most Indian prisons are highly overcrowded according to International standards and have far more convicts as well as under-trial prisoners than their capacity. The High Court also directed that there would be exceptions to which class of prisoners could be released on interim bail or parole. The exceptions would be those who are accused or convicted of offences related to child sex abuse, accused or convicted of sexual offences against women, those accused of waging war against the state or participating in rioting, those accused or convicted of kidnapping, particularly children, those accused of involvement in circulating counterfeit currency, those punished under the Gangster Act, those accused or convicted of economic offences and of corruption and those convicted under the NDPS Act for possession of drugs. Only those undertrials or convicts would be considered for parole or interim bail whose offences have prescribed sentences of up to seven years. The maximum period of parole would be six months according to the order issued by the High Court. Petitions of the prisoners applying for parole or bail would be heard online under arrangements to be made by District Judges concerned. A proper health check up would be carried out of the prisoners before the grant of their parole or bail.