The Delhi High Court recently passed an order in the case of Babu Lal v. State (N.C.T of Delhi) in which Babu Lal a 73-year-old retired school teacher convicted under the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to “drop-a-nail” on Google Maps every Friday to allow the police to verify his location.
Babu Lal was convicted of a 10-year sentence and had been in jail since 24 February 2020 but taking into consideration the medical perceptivity of the convict, the single bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani for a time has suspended the mentioned sentence for 3 months on various conditions. The court has taken this action to ‘decongest prisons over COVID-19 fear’.
The appellant has to make a video call every Friday between 11 am and 11:30 am to the investigating officer. In case if the investigating officer is no longer in service or is otherwise unavailable, then to the SHO of the police station where the case was registered and also ‘drop-a-nail’ on google maps, so that the IO/SHO can verify the appellant’s presence and location.
The appellant has to give a phone number to the jail custodian and the given number should be kept active and switched-on at all times.
Additional Public Prosecutor, Ms Asha Tiwari who appeared for the state, averse the application submitted by the appellant who has been convicted under Section 6 with Section 5(m) of the POCSO Act and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
But, she also informed the court that the claimant has paid the fine of Rs 10,000/- that was imposed on him as part of the sentence. Moreover, the martyr has also received 1.25 lacs under the Delhi Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018.
Appellant’s lawyer, Mr Amit Chauhan had submitted that discharge summary dated 13-09-2016 prepared by Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, which records the course of treatment the appellant had undergone in 2016 relating to various illnesses, such as Myasthenia Gravis with Aspiration Pneumonitis, Type-11 Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and Bronchial Asthma for which the appellant was hospitalised from 23-08-2016 to 13-09-2016.
Lal’s lawyer, further mentioned that the appellant remains under heavy medication and requires regular monitoring and care for him to remain in a stable medical condition. On 13th April, the court demanded a report on Lal’s medical condition from the jail custodian. The report showed that appellant had high blood sugar levels and he also suffered from high blood pressure.
Mr Chauhan stated that the report did not reflect the convict’s medical condition accurately. He further stated that appellant’s medical complications make it “medically unsafe” for him to remain in prison due to COVID-19.
As, the Additional Public Prosecutor, Ms Asha Tiwari did not counter the submission that the appellant was in a medically vulnerable position in prison. Allowing the appellant’s application, Justice Bhambhani then observed:
“Although the record shows that the applicant has only been in prison since 24-02-2020 which was the date the sentencing order was passed and that he has been convicted of a heinous offence under the POCSO Act, in the unprecedented circumstances of a public health emergency that prevail today and the consequent need to decongest prisons for the overall medical safety of all prisoners, this court is persuaded to grant to the appellant interim suspension of sentence for three months”
Appellant’s sentence was therefore suspended and he is subjected to pay off a period bond of Rs 50,000.
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