An inmate in Palakkad woman cell was recently released on parole following the instructions of the Kerala High Court. The court, on March 30, had granted parole to all prisoners – under trial or remand – serving sentences below seven years, as part of reducing the crowd in jails during COVID-19 pandemic. The parole will last till the end of the COVID-19 lockdown or else April 30, whichever comes first.
The woman in Palakkad, however, came back to jail in a couple of days, having nowhere else to go. “She fell in the category of prisoners who are eligible for the interim bail ordered by the court,” says Anil Kumar, superintendent at the woman cell.
“However, she had fallen out with her family after eloping with a married man. Both of them had been serving sentences for a POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) case. When he was granted bail, two people came to take him home. They took her along, too. But he had a family and there were issues in bringing her home. She then tried to stay at a relative’s house but that too did not work out. In the end, she came back to the jail and said she is more comfortable here. So we have taken her in,” Anil Kumar adds.
It is not the same situation everywhere. Jail superintendents check with the relatives before granting parole to the eligible prisoners. “We contact their families and ask them if they are ready to take the prisoner home. If they are ready, we send them home with the relatives who come to pick them up. Otherwise, we send them safely to an NGO,” says Sofia Beevi, superintendent at the Poojappura Open Jail in Thiruvananthapuram.
“They are humans too, we need to make sure they are safe,” Sofia adds.
Eight women have been granted parole from the open prison. In Viyyur Vanitha Jail, two women have been given interim bail and in Kannur women’s prison, four women got parole.