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Asking Prisoners To Surrender When The COVID Cases Are Still Rising Is A Dangerous Proposition: Delhi's HPC Extends Bails For 45 More Days

Karan Tripathi
1 Dec 2020 6:31 AM GMT
Asking Prisoners To Surrender When The COVID Cases Are Still Rising Is A Dangerous Proposition: Delhis HPC Extends Bails For 45 More Days
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Delhi's High Powered Committee has decided to extend the interim bail granted to prisoners to contain the spread of COVID19 pandemic inside the prisons for 45 more days. While noting that the COVID cases in Delhi are still rising, the Committee headed by Delhi High Court's puisne judge Justice Hima Kohli, highlighted that if at this stage the COVID bails are not extended, and...

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Delhi's High Powered Committee has decided to extend the interim bail granted to prisoners to contain the spread of COVID19 pandemic inside the prisons for 45 more days. 

While noting that the COVID cases in Delhi are still rising, the Committee headed by Delhi High Court's puisne judge Justice Hima Kohli, highlighted that if at this stage the COVID bails are not extended, and the UTPs/Convicts are asked to surrender at this time, then it would be a dangerous proposition, as they might bring with them the infection.

The High Powered Committee was set up as per directions of the Supreme Court in the suo moto matter Re: Contagion of COVID-19, to decongest the Delhi prisons in light of novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, on the basis of the criteria set by the committee, a total of 5114 prisoners have been released on interim bail/emergency parole till 27/11/20.

In the meeting held on Nov 28, the Director General (Prisons) brought to the notice of the committee that if 3499 UTPs and 1183 convicts who have been granted 'interim bail/emergency parole' under different criteria laid down by this Committee are asked to surrender, then the total population of Delhi Prison is likely to reach 20500, which would be unprecedented and may become unmanageable owing to the present situation and circumstances.

DG (Prisons) further informed the committee that till date only on one occasion the maximum population of Delhi Prisons has touched 18,000 in this year.

While observing that the COVID19 situation in Delhi has taken a 360-degree turn, the committee noted that:

'This sudden spurt of COVID – 19 cases in Delhi reflects that there is no certainty when the threat of pandemic shall be over. Taking this into account, Members of the Committee are of the view that the interim bail granted to 3499 UTPs and 1183 convicts who are on 'interim bail/emergency parole' under the criteria laid down by HPC, if at this stage are not extended, and the UTPs/Convicts are asked to surrender at this time then it, would be a dangerous proposition, as they might bring with them the infection. The Committee is, therefore, of the considered opinion that no such chance/risk can be taken and thus resolved that interim bail granted to 3499 UTPs needs to be further extended for a period of 45 days.'

The committee has further directed the Member Secretary of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to place this order before the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court for seeking appropriate judicial order on the recommendations of the committee.

In addition to the extension of interim bail granted to undertrial prisoners, the committee has also decided to extend the emergency parole granted to convicts for 6 more weeks

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