13 April 2020 4:28 PM GMT
In view of the impending threat of COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court has ordered that detainees at detention centers of Assam who have been incarcerated for more than 2 years may be released on execution of personal bonds with two sureties. The order was passed while hearing an application moved by Assam-based NGO 'Justice and Liberty Initiative' in the suo moto case registered by...
In view of the impending threat of COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court has ordered that detainees at detention centers of Assam who have been incarcerated for more than 2 years may be released on execution of personal bonds with two sureties.
The order was passed while hearing an application moved by Assam-based NGO 'Justice and Liberty Initiative' in the suo moto case registered by the Supreme Court for decongestion of prisons in India.
The application was moved for modification of a previous order of the court dated May 10, 2019 in Supreme Court Legal Services Committee v. Union of India & Others, whereby it was directed that all detainees from detention centres who have spent more than 3 years in detention be released, subject to execution of bonds.
The applicants had now sought that the order be modified and the period of three years be reduced to one year.
COVID-19 : SC Orders Release Of Persons Lodged For Over 2 Years In Assam Foreigners' Detention Centres [Read Order]
Opposing the application, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that it would be hazardous to release such people since they would again mix with rest of the population and it would be difficult to trace them, in case the Government resorts to certain steps under the law.
Disagreeing with the SG, a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar observed that the May 2019 order was passed when there was no danger of any pandemic like the present one.
However, having regard to the present circumstances prevailing in the country and having regard to the fact that it had already permitted the release of prisoners and people under detention in general, and such detenues who have completed three years upon their declaration as foreigners, we see no reason why the period should not be reduced from three years to two years"
Accordingly it ordered,
"The prisoners or detenues who have been under detention for two years shall be entitled to be released on the same terms and conditions as those laid down in the aforesaid order dated 10.05.2019, except that they shall not be required to furnish a bond in the sum of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh only). Instead they shall be required to furnish a bond in the sum of Rs.5,000/- (Rupees five thousand only) with two sureties of the like sum of Indian citizens."
Notably, there are six detention centres in Assam, in which 802 persons are under detention, as told by Union Minister Nityanand Rai in Lok Sabha last month.
To avoid overcrowding in prisons in the wake of COVID pandemic, the Supreme Court on March 23, 2020 had directed all states and Union Territories to set up high level committees to determine class of prisoners who could be released on parole for four to six weeks.
The Supreme Court has also issued certain supplementary measures to be observed by the state and prison authorities, so that the release of prisoners itself does not lead to spread of COVID-19.
Case Title: In Re : Contagion Of Covid 19 Virus In Prisons
Case No.: Suo Motu WP (C) No.1/ 2020
Quorum: Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar
Appearance: Amicus Curiae Dushyant Dave, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta
Click Here To Download Order