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New Delhi: Taking note of an "unprecedented surge" in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Supreme Court on Saturday passed directions for decongestion of prisons and ordered forthwith release of all those prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year in view of the pandemic.

A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant said that all those prisoners who were allowed to go out on bail in March last year by the high-powered committees of states and Union Territories (UTs), set up following the apex court's order, be granted the same relief without reconsideration by HPCs to avoid delay.

"Further we direct that, those inmates who were granted parole, pursuant to our earlier orders, should be again granted parole for a period of 90 days in order to tide over the pandemic," the bench said in its order uploaded on the apex court's website on Saturday.

Referring to a judgement, the top court asked authorities not to arrest mechanically in cases where the maximum sentence is up to seven years of jail term.

It also directed the high-powered committees to consider release of fresh prisoners by adopting the guidelines of the National Legal Services Authority on the issue.
 

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