With regards to the Supreme Court's suggestion in March 2020, at least 6,740 prisoners at Tihar jail were released on COVID-19 parole, of which 3,468 have gone missing. The jail authorities have sought help from the Delhi Police to trace the missing prisoners.
Most of the released prisoners were suffering from some severe chronic illnesses like HIV, TB, Cancer, Asthma, Hepatitis B or C and even kidney dysfunction requiring dialysis. They were released on parole considering the subsequent spike in COVID cases.
Of the 6,740 prisoners released, 1,184 were convicted inmates from Delhi's Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini jails.
The jail authorities said that the prisoners were initially released for eight weeks last year. Later as the COVID situation worsened, their release was extended. The prisoners were expected to surrender between 7th February to 6th March 2021, however, 112 out of the 1,184 went missing.
Of the 5,556 under-trial prisoners who were released on interim bail, only 2,200 have returned and surrendered themselves.
Following the Supreme Court's intervention, all states had constituted high-powered committees to decide the criteria for the release of convicts. For Delhi, the committee comprised of Justice Hima Kohli judge of Delhi High Court, Delhi Government Principal Secretary (Home) Satya Gopal and Tihar Director-General Sandeep Goel.
When asked about the missing prisoners, Goel said that they have created a list of convicts who have not surrendered yet and shared it with the Delhi Police.
"Some UTPs (undertrial prisoners) are still surrendering and some might have obtained regular bails from courts, which is being ascertained," he said, reported The Indian Express.
According to the Tihar jail authorities, there were 67 active COVID-19 cases among the jail inmates and 11 among the staff members as recorded till Wednesday.
Reports suggest that there are currently 20,000 prisoners in Tihar jail.
Till now there have been 174 inmates and 300 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19. The jail authorities further decided to cancel meetings between the prisoners and their family members as the number of COVID cases are rapidly increasing in Delhi.