Delhi High Court: Interim Bail Granted to 2177 Under-Trial Prisoners to be Extended for Another 45 Days amidst the Pandemic

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The Delhi High Court heard a suo-moto case of ‘courts on its own motion vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi’ via video conferencing. The court granted an extension of interim bail to the Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) for another 45 days. The writ petition was taken up according to a note of the Register General dated 07.05.2020. 

The Contention of the Parties

The Supreme Court vide order dated 23.03.2020 and 13.04.2020 gave directions in ‘In Re Contagion of COVID-19’. For the effective implementation of directions, a High Power Committee was set up. The aim was to decongest the jails and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The committee recommended the release of 2177 UTPs on interim bail for 45 days. This was from the date of respective analysis. 

HPC in its meeting held on 05.05.2020 stated that the granted bail of some UTPs will end on 09.05.2020. While for other UTPs, in the coming days of May and even the first week of June. HPC further stated that it is not possible to predict the situation even after that. This is for the reason that the Central Government has itself extended the lockdown. Hence, HPC opined that the interim bail should extend for a period of 45 days by the Delhi High Court. As a result, the CMMs/MMs will not decide on the basis of individual applications. 

The Director-General (Prisoners) and Learned counsel Sandeep Goel, reiterated the same request. The counsel requested the extension of interim bails during the current situation. Advocate Rahul Mehra, Ld. Standing Counsel (Criminal) for Government of NCT of Delhi also stated the same. He said that he has no objection to the extension of interim bails granted to 2177 UTPs by another period of 45 days. 

The Decision of the Court

The Delhi High Court ordered the extension of interim bail for a period of 45 days to 2177 UTPs. The two-judge bench of Justice Talwant Singh and Justice Siddharth Mridul held this in view of the HPC recommendation. The court also considered the orders given in Shobha Gupta and amp. v. Union of India. The court granted the extension of interim bails on the same terms and conditions. 

The Director-General (Prisons) and Ld. Member Secretary, DSLSA were also directed to coordinate. They need to ensure that this order reaches all the 2177 UTPs by telephone and through all other modes.


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