Around 1,500 prisoners are being considered for release as they have served around 20 years of their prison terms
Many inmates serving life behind bars or preparing to secure bail, are now stuck in jail because of the long public holiday for the coronavirus pandemic.
A man from Rajbari, sexagenarian Shafiq, was a fugitive since a Dhaka Court sentenced him to 18 months of rigorous imprisonment in June 2011 in a case filed with Ashulia police station.
Shafiq was arrested in December last year and later filed a bail petition with the High Court. The court granted him a six month interim bail.
However, he is still sitting in his jail cell since his lawyer was unable to submit the necessary documents as the court went on public holiday following the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Advocate Akhtarul Islam, Shafiq’s lawyer, told Dhaka Tribune: “We could not submit the bail bond to the trial court because of the holiday and my client is now serving extra days in jail.”
Shafiq’s daughter-in-law, Mintu Biswas, said: “My father-in-law is very sick. He is a blood cancer patient. In our last meeting at the jail gate, we gave him the necessary medicine which is not possible anymore.”
In another incident, Md Hellal and Mansur Ali were in jail for 36 days. Police arrested them with 20 yaba pills in their possession and lodged a drug case with Ashulia police station.
Advocate Mostafizur Rahman, lawyer for both, said the court usually grants bail after serving one month when police catch someone with this small number of yaba pills.
If the court could hear the bail petition, they could secure bail, he added.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Advocate AM Aminuddin suggested that only for this crisis period, the Supreme Court can publish all of its bail orders on their website and at the same time the SC can send the bail orders by email to the jail authorities.
The top court can order the lawyers of the inmates seeking bail to submit their bail bonds to trial court within a specified time once the court reopens, he added.
On April 1, the government said it was considering releasing around 3000 prisoners from jail in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The jail authorities have sent a proposal to the Home Ministry in this regard.
According to jail authority sources, around 1,500 prisoners are being considered for release as they have served around 20 years of their prison terms.
According to the jail code, such prisoners can receive clemency if the government wishes.
The other 1500 of the 3000 prisoners are serving jail terms for some minor cases, and some are also physically challenged.
Jail sources said these types of prisoners can also get clemency, but they need to go through a verification process such as checking their prior criminal records.
A top government official hinted that some prisoners might be considered for clemency in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak.
This inclination to pardon and clemency gained traction among government officials after the release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from the Prison.
They felt that not only our country, but also our neighboring country India, is considering the release of prisoners to prevent coronavirus in prison.
Last week, India’s highest court issued a directive to release prisoners from various prisons in West Bengal within that week for three months.