released around 3,000 inmates on bail or parole to decongest
correctional homes since the last week March in the wake of
the COVID-19 outbreak, an official said on Sunday.
The department of correctional services has also taken
several measures to check coronavirus infection inside the
jails of the state.
The official said there are around 60 correctional
homes in West Bengal, housing nearly 25,000 inmates and of
them, close to 7,000 are convicts while others are
"So far, more than 3,000 inmates have been granted
bail or parole. Out of whom, around 2,000 are under trial
prisoners and the remaining are convicts. We have taken other
measures such as ensuring that the inmates use protective
gears and maintain social distancing norms in correctional
homes," the senior jail official said.
Earlier, the department also disallowed prison visits
by family members.
"This decision of not allowing family members to meet
the inmates has helped a lot in containing the situation.
Initially, the prisoners had protested against this decision,
but later they accepted it," Correctional Services Minister
Ujjal Biswas said.
The decision had even led to clashes between inmates
and guards at a jail in Kolkata in March, where prisoners
pelted stones and set prison properties on fire.
The Calcutta High Court on March 24 formed a three-
member panel to examine the situation in all correctional
homes of West Bengal and prepare a report on the number of
inmates who could be granted bail or parole to avoid crowding
in jails, in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The department then prepared a list of inmates
eligible for parole and bail and forwarded it to the court.
Inmates were released following the guideline laid
down by the court, the official said.
The high court took up the issue suo motu following a
Supreme Court direction, asking all state governments and
Union territories to set up high-level committees to determine
the class of prisoners who could be released on parole for
four to six weeks.
The apex court had said prisoners convicted of or
charged with offences having prison terms up to seven years
can be given parole to decongest the jails.
According to the website of the West Bengal
Correctional Services department, the state has six central
correctional homes, 12 district correctional homes, three
special correctional homes, two women''s correctional homes,
one open-air correctional home, and 33 subsidiary correctional
The combined registered capacity of these facilities
is 20,802 including 1,637 females. PTI PNT