By Purushottam P. Khatri
Kathmandu, Mar. 28: The government has released 78 jailbirds and 119 children aged below 16 years owing to the increasing risk of the coronavirus (COVID-19) from across the country.
“As of Friday afternoon, the Department of Prison Management upon the order of the Supreme Court, released 78 inmates who were slapped a jail term of one year or less for committing various crimes,” Pradipraj Kanel, director general at the Prison Management, told The Rising Nepal on telephone.
According to him, on March 20, the SC had issued an order in the name of the government to release the jailbirds who were sentenced just a year of jail term. Similarly, 119 children were released from the Child Correction Home (Bal Sudhar Griha) on the basis of the same order of the SC, he said.
Of the total freed inmates, 38 were released from the Kathmandu Valley-based prisons—the Central Jail Sundhara and Dilli Bazaar Jail in Kathmandu and Nakkhu Jail in Lalitpur district.
Twenty seven inmates were released from the Central and Dilli Bazaar jails and 11 from Nakkhu jail, said Kanel. Most of the freed inmates were doing their time under the charge of indecent behaviour.
Section 155 of the present Civil (Criminal) Code Act 2017 has a provision of releasing the inmates who were sentenced up to a one-year jail term. Such provision can be done by accepting a bail amount of the period they had to spend in prison, according to Kanel. Before their release, one jail bird should pay Rs. 300 of each day to complete their jail term.
The decision to release some jailbirds to minimise the risk of the virus was taken on March 20 by a meeting chaired by Attorney General Agni Prasad Kharel and attended by Home Secretary Maheshwor Kumar Neupane, Law Secretary Rajib Gautam, Police Chief Thakur Prasad Gyawaly, and chief registrar at SC Nripa Dhwoj Niroula.
According to Kanel, before releasing them, they should write an application to the concerned prison offices.
Meanwhile, DG Kanel said that the news report concerning the 13 jailbirds, who were said to be taken to an isolation ward at the Central jail was baseless.
Those 13jailbirds were all new inmates brought from Biratnagar, he said. The newly arrived jailbirds were not sent to the jail directly, they were first kept at separate sections of the jail called Karkhana, and had undergone minor health check-up. “No such high fever and symptoms of the virus were seen in those inmates” Kanel said.