The Punjab government has decided to release almost 20,000 of its 46,000 prisoners amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, a private news channel reported on Friday.
According to the report, jail superintendents — who have reached out to the courts to approve the bail of prisoners handed sentences of seven years or less — took this step in light of special instructions.
The report stated that bail requests were also filed for prisoners jailed for petty crimes, as well as the elderly, or criminals over 60 years of age. Further, those with sentences ranging from seven years to 25 were being determined on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, bail requests were submitted for prisoners under trial for less serious crimes.
Last week, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah had ordered for bails to be issued for prisoners facing trial for minor crimes in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He made the decision while hearing a case of 1,362 incarcerated prisoners.
The top IHC judge had noted how prisons in Pakistan were in dire straits and that the situation would get out of control if any prisoner became infected.