Holding that the inability of the State to execute a production warrant issued by a state is not a reason to detain aperson, the Delhi High Court on Friday allowed a habeas corpus petition to direct the release of a person.
The petition was filed by on Vinod Bansal, who was detained in Tihar prison. He was stated to be facing 11 cases. Though he was granted regular bail in ten of those cases, one case remained, which was a case pertaining to cheque dishonour filed in Agra.
The State submitted that a Court in Agra had issued a production warrant under Section 267 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for his production on January 27. But due to the Republic Day celebrations and pre-occupation therewith, he could not be produced before the concerned Court at Agra. On the second occasion, the petitioner was required to be produced before the concerned court at Agra on 25.2.2020, but this time, the production warrants were received at the last minute due to which the same could not be executed.
Thereafter, despite the efforts made by the Jail authorities to verify the next date of hearing in the pending complaint case before the learned court at Agra, U.P., there has been no information forthcoming and the jail authorities have been informed that Courts there are not functioning presently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petitioner's counsel, Anuj Chauhan, submitted that the inability to execute the production warrant cannot be a reason to detain the petitioner, when he has been granted bail in all other cases. He also referred to Section 269(c) of the CrPC.
Section 269 (c) of the Cr.P.C. prescribes that where a person in respect of whom an order is made under Section 267, requiring attendance of a prisoner before a particular court, is in custody for a period that would expire before expiration of the time required for complying with the order and for taking him back to the prison in which he is confined or detained, in those circumstances, the officer in charge of the prison must abstain from carrying out the Court's order and instead, should send a statement of reasons to the concerned court for the said absence.
In this backdrop, a bench comprising Justices Hima Kohil and Subramonium Prasad ordered :
"We are of the opinion that the petitioner cannot be detained unendingly merely because the respondent/State was unable to execute the production warrants issued by the concerned Court at Agra, directing his presence, particularly, when efforts made by the respondent to verify the next date of hearing have not borne any fruitful result and we are informed that the concerned Court at Agra is not functioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. In such circumstances, it is only just and fair that the petitioner be released forthwith on the condition that he furnishes a bond to the Superintendent Jail undertaking inter alia that he shall appear before the concerned Court at Agra in CC No. 3300/2016 on the next date of hearing".
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