Delhi High Court has agreed with the decision of the High Powered Committee to do away with sureties and release the under trial prisoners (UTPs) on bail upon furnishing a personal bond.
The Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri has noted that:
'...in view of the unprecedented prevailing circumstances and the matter of decongesting the prisons with which the Supreme Court was concerned in the writ petition aforesaid, and without creating any precedent, a case for modifying the bail orders passed either by this Court or by any court subordinate to it, on or before 7th April, 2020, thereby doing away with the condition of furnishing surety bond and instead, allowing the under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendant of Jail, is made out.'
The present matter was taken up suo moto by the court after the Registrar received a communication of the directions of the High Powered Committee from the Delhi State Legal Services Authority.
The High Powered Committee was constituted, pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court in Re: Contagion of COVID19 virus in prisons, to look into the matter of decongesting the prisons.
On April 7, the said Committee had passed the following directions:
Appearing for the Delhi Government, Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra informed the court that implementing the recommendations of the High Powered Committee would be in consonance with the orders of the Supreme Court in Moti Ram Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, and R.D. Upadyay Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, wherein the grant of bail was permitted on furnishing the personal bond only.
Mr Mehra also informed the court that there is no list of cases in which inspite of bail order, the under-trial prisoners continue to languish in prison because of failure to furnish surety bond.
While upholding the recommendations of the High Powered Committee, the court clarified that this order should not be construed as changing any other condition if any imposed in the bail orders aforesaid passed by this Court or by any Court subordinate to it.
Therefore, the court has asked for release of UTPs, who were granted bail by different courts on or before April 7 but are still languishing in jails due to incapacity to furnish sureties, upon furnishing a personal bond to the satisfaction of the Superintendent of Jail.
'We are confident that the D.G. (Prisons) would be in a position to collate all the said orders and cases with the assistance of Member Secretary DSLSA and Principal Secretary (Home), GNCTD who are also requested to do the needful for compliance of this order', the court stated.
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