On account of the COVID outbreak, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday granted three months' interim bail to a woman prisoner, arrested under the NDPS Act, to look after her new-born child delivered while in custody.
The High Court noted that even the charges against her stand framed in December 2019 and till date, no prosecution witness has been examined, which shows that in the present prevailing condition in the country, the prosecution witnesses may not examined for another couple of months or so.
Issuing notice on her application, the Single Judge had on April 9 asked the Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala to apprise the court, after consultation with a civil surgeon/SMO/Jail Doctor, as to which of the two places i.e. the hospital, where the applicant-petitioner and her new born child are currently admitted or the prison, where she is confined, would be more suitable and safe for both of them in view of the prevailing circumstances regarding outbreak of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the High Court observed that the applicant-petitioner is a young lady who has no previous history of involvement in any such case, and that she is in judicial custody for the last more than eight months and the investigation is complete and her custodial investigation is no more required.
Further, "A perusal of the FIR showed that complainant/ASI Swaran Singh has himself conducted the entire investigation. The applicant-petitioner was apprehended at about 8.00 AM and after completing the entire investigation, which includes preparation of sample parcels and other documents and memos, an information in writing was sent to the police station at 9.30 AM i.e. after 1 1⁄2 hours and no efforts were made to join a second investigating officer. Even as per the prosecution version, when the second investigating officer SI Nirvair Singh came and conducted the personal search of the applicant-petitioner through Lady Constable Meenakshi, nothing was recovered", narrated the Single Bench.
Hence, the Court found sufficient reasons to believe that applicant-petitioner is entitled to get the concession of interim bail, recording that "She has given birth to a child on 01.04.2020 and as per report of the Civil Surgeon, Patiala, she can be kept in a Creche along with two other inmates who can help her", but "A perusal of this letter/report would show that no inmate is a medical expert to take care of the mother and child"
Considering the prevailing situation and the restricted working of the Judicial Officers/Additional Sessions Judges in the Districts on account of outbreak of COVID-19, the High Court directed the Superintendent to release the applicant-petitioner immediately on Wednesday itself after obtaining an undertaking from one of her blood relations i.e. parents/her brother or her husband, attested by her lawyer that she will appear before the trial Court within a period of 14 days to furnish bail/surety bonds.
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