In a suo moto matter, the Delhi High Court has extended the interim bail granted to Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) for a period of 45 days in light of the continuing COVID19 pandemic.
The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh approved the recommendation given by the High Powered Committee wherein it was pointed out that the interim bail granted to 2177 UTPs shall be extended for 45 more days as the COVID19 crisis is still continuing.
The High Powered Committee was constituted by the Delhi Government upon the direction given by the Supreme Court to decongest the prisons in Delhi, in light of the COVID19 pandemic.
In light of the periodical directions of this committee, as well as the directions given by the High Court in the case of Shobha Gupta v. Union of India, 2177 Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) were released on interim bail for a period of 45 days from the date of their respective release.
On May 05, the High Powered Committee said period of 45 days in respect of some UTPs is going to expire on 09.05.2020 and for others it shall expire in coming days of May, 2020 and in the first week of June, 2020 but situation of the pandemic is still the same and the Central Government has already extended the Lock Down to 17.05.2020 and it may not be possible to predict definite date for resumption of normal functioning of Court system.
In light of this, the committee was of the opinion that interim bail so granted to 2177 UTPs by respective CMMs/MMs needs to be extended for a further period of 45 days.
Since it wouldn't have been practical for each and every UTP to to approach the Magistrate individually to seek this relief, the committee was of the opinion that the same should be operationalised by a judicial order of the High Court.
Mr Sandeep Goel, Director General (Prisons), and Mr Rahul Mehra (Standing Counsel, Delhi Government) also expressed their approval for the said extension of 45 days.
While approving the recommendation of the High Powered Committee, and extending the interim bail of 2177 UTPs by 45 more days, the court noted that:
'Director General (Prisons) shall ensure that this order is conveyed to all the 2177 UTPs by telephone, as well as, through all other available modes. Ld. Member Secretary, DSLSA shall coordinate with DG (Prisons) in this regard.'
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