The Supreme Court has asked the legislature to "ponder" upon the idea of keeping convicts under house arrest to avoid overcrowding at prisons, amid the increasing spread of COVID-19.
A bench of justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph, in a judgement, highlighted the "alarming" statistics of prisons, reported The Hindu.
A few days ago, a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, issued a set of directions, in which granting of interim bail and parole to prisoners to decongest prisons, was one of them.
The occupancy rate in prisons had climbed to 118.5% in 2019, said Justice Joseph. The court referred to the National Crime Records Bureau's figures of 2019 to show that 18,86,092 inmates were admitted in jails. The number of undertrial prisoners in 2019 was 3,30,487 which, in fact, constituted 69.05% of the total number of prisoners.
Secondly, a very large sum (Rs 6818.1 crore) was sanctioned in the budget for prisons.
The top court concluded by saying that "as regards post-conviction cases, we would leave it open to the legislature to ponder over its employment. We have indicated the problems of overcrowding of prisons and the cost to the State in maintaining prisons."
The judgement was based on the plea for default bail filed by activist Gautam Navlakha.