COVID-19: Shillong prisoners get bail

COVID-19: Shillong prisoners get bail
File photo of Shillong district jail.
Correspondent SHILLONG, APR 1 | Publish Date: 4/1/2020 9:38:48 AM IST

94 Undertrial prisoners (UTPs) from Shillong jail and eight children from observation home in Meghalaya, were released on bail on Tuesday following Supreme Court order to decongest prisons in view of COVID-19, a law officer said on Wednesday.

The UTPs and eight children were released on bail after the High Power Committee (HPC) headed by Justice Hamar Sing Thangkhiew of the Meghalaya High Court, discussed on the matter of releasing of prisoner on bail, interim bail, and parole as per the directive of the apex court.

Thangkhiew is also the Executive Chairman of Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority (MLSA).

Member Secretary of MSLSA, N.A. Khan said the release of UTPs from other district jails of the State would soon follow under the supervision of the district legal services authority with the assistance of the legal aid counsel. He said the 94 UTPs from Shillong jail and eight children “in conflict with law” were released on Monday from the observation home (Boys) Mawkasiang.

Khan said the Committee which met on Tuesday also discussed releasing of prisoner on bail, interim bail, and parole also deliberated on the present condition and preparedness of the Prison department to deal with congestion in district jails.  Prisons department statistics till March 30, 2020, revealed that there are 1105 inmates in the five district jails of Shillong, Tura, Williamnagar, Jowai and Nongpoh. 174 prisoners were identified from the Shillong jail, which constituted 37.9 percent of the total population of Shillong jail.

In Shillong jail, the number of prisoners is 459 against the available capacity of 170.  The number of inmates at Jowai jail in West Jaintia Hills district and Nongpoh jail in Ri-Bhoi district are also on the extreme higher side

Jowai jail has 243 prisoners against the housing capacity of 130 inmates, while Nongpoh District Jail which has a capacity of 120 has 179 inmates.

There are 193 inmates at Tura jail in West Garo Hills district against the capacity of 200 and Williamnagar Jail in East Garo Hills district which have a capacity to accommodate 50 prisoners is occupied by 31 inmates.

On the other hand, the HPC has also expressed concern on the  impact of the pandemic of COVID-19  which  has greatly affected the daily wagers and migrant workers. 

Khan said the government will be extending financial assistance to all daily wagers earners for the wage loss due to lockdown and has set up a Toll Free Number 1070 for registration and collecting details of such daily wager. 

However, the government informed the HPC that the financial assistance will not be applicable to the workers already registered under the Meghalaya Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, the MGNREGA job card holders, muster roll workers of government departments and casual wage workers in government and semi-government. 

Khan said the MSLSA will make wide publicity through the district and block level officials of Labour department, mobile vans, WhatsApp, SMS to bring awareness among daily wagers and migrant workers of the benefit extended by the Labour department. 


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