The Delhi High Court in the Suo-moto case of Courts on its own motion vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, ordered an extension of interim bail for the Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs). The court listed the case by way of video conferencing based on a note of the Register General dated 07.05.2020.
The contention of the parties
High Court of Delhi constituted a High Power Committee (HPC) to decongest the jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for effective implementation of the directions by the Supreme Court of India. The matter of In re Contagion of COVID19 virus order dated 23.03.2020 and 13.04.2020 gave these directions.
As per the committee recommendations dated 28.03.2020, 07.04.2020 and 18.04.2020, 2177 UTPs were released on interim bail for a period of 45 days from the date of their respective release.
HPC based on its meeting on 05.05.2020, stated that the granted bail period of 45 days for some UTPs is going to end on 09.05.2020 and for others in the coming days of May and even first week of June. Given the worsening of the pandemic situation, the Central Government has extended the nationwide lockdown to 17.05.2020. According to the HPC, the interim bail granted to all UTPs should be extended for another 45 days by the Delhi High Court instead of CMMs/MMs deciding individual applications.
In view of the prevailing pandemic situation, Learned counsel Sandeep Goel, Director General (Prisons) reiterated the same request. Further, Advocate Rahul Mehra, Ld. Standing Counsel (Criminal) for Government of NCT of Delhi had no objection to the extension of interim bails by another period of 45 days from the date of respective expiry of their interim bail period.
The decision of the Court
A two-judge bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh of the Delhi High Court granted the interim bails for a period of 45 days to the 2177 UTPs. On the basis of orders given in Shobha Gupta & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors, the bail is extended by another period of 45 days from the date of the respective expiry of interim bails on the same terms and conditions.
The court also directed the Director General (Prisons) and Ld. Member Secretary, DSLSA to convey the order to all the 2177 UTPs by telephone and all other available modes.
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