The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday directed the subordinate judicial authorities to devise a reliable mechanism to update the contact details of all the On Duty Magistrates on the official website of the court, during the lockdown period, so that compliance of bail orders can be ensured.
The direction has been made by Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill in a miscellaneous application moved by an undertrial prisoner, who despite being granted bail on two occasions, once by the Additional District Judge in February and another by the Sessions Judge on March 23, had not been released from jail.
He had pointed out that the said orders granting bail had neither been uploaded on the website nor copies thereof had been provided to him. Consequently, in utter ignorance of the orders granting regular bail and various guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, he had not, till date, been released on bail.
In these circumstances, the High Court ordered,
"all the District & Sessions Judges in the States of Punjab, Haryana and U.T., Chandigarh, shall make a mechanism, clearly providing on their official websites, the contact numbers and e-mails of the CJMs/Duty Magistrates or other Judicial Officers on duties so that the compliance of the orders granting bail could be made. They are also directed to upload the orders passed by the Courts in their respective Sessions Divisions, before or on the date of lockdown. However, while doing so, there shall be strict compliance of the precautionary measures as circulated by this Court in the wake of Pandemic Covid-19."
Inter alia, in view of the Supreme Court directions to de-congest prisons, the court ordered that all the orders granting bail must be put to effect immediately.
"Keeping in view the prevailing situation in the country on account of the outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19, and further taking into consideration the guidelines issued by the Hon'ble Supreme Court thereby directing all the states to consider releasing some prisoners on parole to reduce overcrowding in prisons, I deem it appropriate to direct all the Subordinate Courts in the States of Punjab, Haryana and U.T., Chandigarh to release the accused, who have already been granted bail either by this Court or by the Subordinate Courts, on bail on furnishing their personal bonds without enforcing the condition of surety bonds/bail bonds," the court said.
It further clarified that any accused will be released from the jail only after complying with the administrative instructions/guidelines issued in view of the outbreak of Covid-19, including maintaining of social distance and preventing community transmission.
Case Title: Ishu Gover v. U.T., Chandigarh & Anr.
Case No.: CRM-M 11952/2020 (O&M)
Quorum: Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill
Appearance: Advocate Abhayjeet Singh (for Petitioner)
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