Around 45,000 prisoners were released in March last year after court's order (File)
The Supreme Court on Friday asked states to release prisoners in a bid to decongest jails on account of the virulent second wave of coronavirus sweeping the country. A high-powered panel in each state has been tasked to determine the class of prisoners who can be released on parole or interim bail.
"The Covid situation is alarming and we have to decongest the prisons," Chief Justice NV Ramana said, adding orders passed last year will have to be repeated.
In March last year, the court took suo motu cognisance of the risk of COVID-19 infection spreading within and from the overcrowded prisons across the country while passing the orders for the prisoners' release.
The court had reasoned that social distancing, an effective check against the virus spread, was difficult in prisons.
Around 45,000 prisoners were released in March last year after the top court's order. The prisoners did return to the jails after the completion of the parole period.
The country is battered by a deadly surge in Covid cases that has overwhelmed its hospitals and health facilities. Various states have imposed night curfews or containment measures to check the spread of the virus.