Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court in Assam has directed that a list of women prisoners living with their children be forwarded to a high-powered committee to evaluate if they can be released due to the special circumstances of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

Hearing a suo motu public interest litigation, Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua on Wednesday instructed the Assam government and the High Court Registrar (Judicial) to place the list before the committee for deciding on the release of the prisoners.

The court noted that in pursuant of its earlier order of May 11 a list of women jail inmates was submitted, including details like those having small children with them who are either undertrials or have been convicted.

“On enquiry, we have found that these children are not juvenile in conflict with the law, but they are in jail since they are less than six years of age and as per the Jail Manual, they are allowed to stay with their mothers who are in jail,” the order said.

Also read: Assam: 4-year-old dies of COVID-19; mother breaks down before CM

The court stated that a ‘High-Powered Committee of the Gauhati High Court is already in place and has drawn certain principles on which jail inmates have to be released on temporary bail for three months or so due to the pandemic.

“…it would be in the best interest of everyone that this list be forwarded to the said High Powered Committee which shall look into this aspect and examine whether any of the inmates who are in the list can be released under these special circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic,” the order said.

The court fixed May 28 for further hearing on the matter.

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