Medha Patkar moves to SC, seeks release of prisoners above 70 years

Social activist Medha Patkar has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking directions to State Governments and Union Territories to formulate a uniform mechanism to release prisoners above 70 years with a view to offload prisons across India, Bar and Bench reported.

The plea relied on the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which said that Covid-19 causes higher mortality among older persons, particularly in persons with underlying medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and cancer, the report said.

“Imperial College, London COVID-19 Response Team has reported that symptomatic individuals in their seventies are twenty times more likely to require hospitalization than those in their twenties,” the plea filed by Advocate Vipin Nair said.

The petition drawn by advocate SB Talekar stated that most of the categorization of prisoners are based on social conditions and factors of administrative convenience.

The High Powered Committees constituted by various States under the Supreme Court’s order to release prisoners on parole due to Covid-19 have not considered the categorization of prisoners based on their susceptibility to the infection and their need to be released on an urgent basis, Bar and Bench noted.

The plea filed by Patkar noted States such as Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh had taken steps to release old age prisoners pursuant to the Supreme Court order.

“It can be thus seen from the different approaches of the HPC’s that there is no uniformity in this regard by the HPC’s of different State and also there seem to be no uniform criteria adopted by the States to decongest the prisons where aged/elderly prisons are undergoing their sentence of imprisonment,” the petition stated.

Patkar also asserted that the chances of a law and order situation to release elderly prisoners are less, as the tendency to indulge in repeat offences is less at such an age.

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