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Containing corona spread in jails: Punjab govt releasing 20,000 prisoners

March 28, 2020

LAHORE: To contain spread of coronavirus in prisons, Punjab government’s home department will be releasing 20,000 prisoners out of 46,000 from 41 jails across the province, The News has learnt.

Sources shared that the jails’ superintendents have reached out to the courts for the bails of prisoners who were convicted for less than seven years. 

According to sources, this decision was taken on special instructions after a prisoner contracted corona and was admitted to a hospital. It was thought that coronavirus could spread in other prisoners.

Bail applications or requests were also filed for prisoners who had committed petty crimes. Additionally, the bail applications have been filed for the elderly criminals or criminals over 60 years of age, the sources added. Furthermore, those with sentences ranging from seven to 25 years were being determined on a case-by-case basis. The sources also shared that the jails were overcrowded in Punjab.

It is pertinent to mention that bail requests have been submitted for prisoners under trial who had committed less serious nature of crimes.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah had ordered for bails to be issued for prisoners facing trial for minor crimes in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He made the decision whilehearing a case of 1,362 prisoners. Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat had assured the court that no prisoner at Adiala Jail was infected with the virus. However, IHC chief justice was worried as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China after it spread among prisoners. The Lahore High Court chief justice had also shown concern on the situation that could get out of control if any prisoner becomes infected. It is worth mentioning that Punjab government took this decision after the decision of the Sindh government to release prisoners who had committed petty crimes. Those who cannot afford to pay fine, the Sindh government will pay on their behalf.