Justice SA Dharmadhikari of the Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has set a new trend of directing the UTPs to donate money for preparation and distribution of food to poor and underprivileged sections of the society, as a precondition for bail.
In as many as 17 bail orders passed between May 18 and May 22, the single–Judge directed the accused persons to deposit a certain prescribed amount with the concerned District Collector "for utilization in preparation of food and its distribution to downtrodden persons including migrant labours, by any Government Agency/NGO."
The court made it clear that the benefit of bail shall be extended to the accused only after he/ she deposits the prescribed amount with the local Collector and obtain a receipt.
Further, it directed the office of the Collector to maintain a separate account for such donations and utilize the same "for disbursement of food packets to the downtrodden people including migrant labours, by any Government Agency/NGO."
Other Bail Conditions
This is not the first time that the MP High Court has evolved a peculiar bail condition during the pandemic situation.
Register as Covid Warrior
As reported earlier, the High Court has been directing few accused to register themselves as "COVID-19 Warriors" and work in the "COVID-19 Disaster Management", as per directions of the concerned District Magistrate, as a pre-condition for bail.
"Human resource in shape of young-aged Appellants could be utilized for the betterment of the society and to ward off the crises," Justice Sheel Nagu had remarked while imposing this bail condition in one of the cases.
Render Voluntary Service
Similarly, Justice Prakash Shrivastava of the MP High Court had directed a grocery shop-owner, apprehended for lockdown violation, to render "voluntary services" for a week, as a precondition for bail.
"The applicant will donate Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand) in the Prime Minister Cares Fund as voluntarily offered by him and will also do service as volunteer for a period of one week for at least three hours per day, as may be directed by the concerned SDM to whom he will duly inform this condition without any delay," he had ordered.
Install Aarogya Setu App
Another frequent bail condition being imposed by the High Court is mandatory installation of the Aarogya Setu App. This bail condition has however been a subject matter of controversy in various quarters.
Pioneer in the data laws regime Justice BN Srikrishna had remarked recently that mandating the use of Aarogya Setu app, in the absence of adequate safeguards, "causes more concern to citizens than benefit."
Contribute Towards PM CARES Fund
Judges at the Gwalior bench are also regularly directing the accused to deposit certain prescribed amounts towards the PM CARES Fund. Significantly, this bail condition was held to be "improper" by the principal seat of the High Court.
Holding that imposition of cash security or deposit of any amount for grant of bail is "unjust, irregular and improper", Justice Sujoy Paul had set aside the bail condition imposed by a local court that the petitioners should deposit an amount of Rs 25,000/- each, towards the PM CARES Fund.