Delhi High Court allows release of Under Trial Prisoners without the Want of Sureties amidst the Outbreak of Covid-19 to avoid Decongestion in Prisons

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High Court of Delhi has disposed the writ petition and allowed passing of bail orders by Delhi High Court or any Court subordinate to it on or before the stipulated time, for under trial prisoners to be released on bail without the condition of the furnishing surety bond and instead released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendent of Jail.

Brief facts of the case

The petition was regarding the formation of the High Powered Committee (HPC) constituted for Delhi according to directions contained in the order of the Supreme Court in Suo Moto Writ Petition titled, re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Prisons concerning inter alia decongestion of prisons. The HPC vide resolution passed certain orders and gave out recommendations.

Arguments before the court

The recommendation of the HPC included that a large number of undertrial prisoners who have been granted bail by different Sessions Courts and Courts of Magistrates are still in jail, for want of sureties. However, the outbreak of the pandemic had restricted the functioning of the courts to very urgent matters after stringent measures were issued by the Government of India to prevent the spread of COVID-19 along with a nationwide lockdown for 21 days. To bring modifications to the bail orders, applications are required to be filed before the concerned court. But this went against the measures which were being taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Thus, the Committee thought that a judicial order would be required from the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, for modifications of such bail orders passed by either High Court of Delhi or any court subordinate to it, thereby modifying with the condition of the furnishing surety bond and instead allowing such undertrial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendant of jail.

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The Court Shri Rahul Mehra, the learned counsel for the respondents mainly contended that the undertrial prisoners despite getting bail do not remain in prison due to failure to meet the condition of furnishing surety bond. He submitted that the judicial direction as recommended by HPC would permit the grant of bail on furnishing of the personal bond only. He also pointed out that there is no list of cases in which despite bail order, the under-trial prisoners continue to languish in prison because of failure to furnish a surety bond.

Court’s view

The High Court of Delhi has considered the recommendation of the HPC given the unprecedented prevailing circumstances and the matter of decongesting the prisons with which the Supreme Court was concerned in the writ petition, thereby agreeing to the condition set by the HPC, a case for modifying the bail orders passed either by this Court or any Court subordinate to it and doing away with the condition of furnishing surety bond and instead and allowing the under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendant of Jail. The Court also clarified that this order should not be construed as changing any other condition if any imposed in the bail orders aforesaid passed by this court or any court subordinate to it.

Court’s decision

Therefore, all bail orders, passed by this Court or by the Courts subordinate to it, on or before 7th April 2020, in pursuance whereto the under-trial prisons have not been released on bail owing to failure to satisfy the condition of furnishing surety bond, are modified and will be granted bail without the condition of furnishing surety bond and instead will allow such under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendent of Jail. Consequently, the petition was disposed of.


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