The Delhi High-Powered Committee formed an opinion that the interim bail granted to 3,337 undertrial prisoners (UTP) according to its criteria needed to be extended for a further period of 30 days.
A three-Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court modified its earlier Order on an extension of interim bail orders on account of COVID-19. The Court requested that the High-Powered Committee take a decision concerning inmates released on the criteria decided by it from time to time. The issue was taken up by the Committee at its meeting held on October 24.
Given the High Court’s Order, the population of inmates was going to rise significantly and was likely to reach 22,000, it was added. The Committee had nonetheless opined that such prisoners must surrender from December 2020.
The Director-General (D.G.) (Prisons) thus contended that interim bail granted to 3,337 UTPs under Committee criteria be extended for a further period of 30 days.
The reasons for the same was cited to be the total prison capacity of 10,000 and the expected increase in population. The Committee opined UTPs/convicts, who would be surrendering as per orders passed by Full Bench of Hon’ble High Court, were required to be kept in Isolation Cells. This was for 14 days from their respective dates of surrender.
Observations of the Court
The High-Powered Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Delhi High Court Judge and Executive Chairperson of the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, Hon’ble Justice Hima Kohli. This Committee was to take measures to decongest jails.
The Court was informed that the period of interim bail granted to 3,337 under trial prisoners was going to expire from November 5 onwards. This was based on criteria laid down by the Committee. Members of the Committee, thus, found the contention raised by D.G. (Prisons) to be reasonable. D.G. (Prisons) further informed that at present, the total population of inmates inside jails was approximately 15,900.
Members of the Committee opined that it would be appropriate to prevent any chaos or inconvenience to the jail authorities.
The Committee clarified that there would be no further extension of interim bail. It had stated that all under-trials concerned were at liberty to move their courts for regular bail.
The Committee would place its recommendation before the High Court for a judicial order.
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