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Supreme Court Directs 2674 Prisoners In Delhi Released On Interim Bail To Surrender Within 15 Days In View Of Improving COVID-19 Situation

Radhika Roy
3 March 2021 1:40 PM GMT
Supreme Court Directs 2674 Prisoners In Delhi Released On Interim Bail To Surrender Within 15 Days In View Of Improving COVID-19 Situation
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The Supreme Court on Monday directed 2674 prisoners of Delhi jails, who had been granted interim bail by trial courts and the Delhi High Court, to surrender within 15 days from March 1 in view of the improving COVID-19 situation. "In view of the improving situation, we direct 2318 prisoners who were granted interim bail by trial courts and 356 prisoners who were granted bail by High...

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed 2674 prisoners of Delhi jails, who had been granted interim bail by trial courts and the Delhi High Court, to surrender within 15 days from March 1 in view of the improving COVID-19 situation. 

"In view of the improving situation, we direct 2318 prisoners who were granted interim bail by trial courts and 356 prisoners who were granted bail by High Court to surrender within 15 days from today", the order said.

A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao passed the order while hearing a petition filed by an NGO named "National Forum for Prison Reforms" challenging an order passed by the Delhi High Court in October last year refusing to extend the interim-bail or parole for the prisoners.

During the hearing, the bench orally remarked that the prisoners could begin filing applications for bail as Courts had started functioning physically. The bench also observed that the instant SLP would be kept pending and that the Court should be apprised of the orders in the bail applications.

Advocate Ajay Verma made a suggestion that the surrender of the prisoners could be done in a district-wise manner, however, this was rejected by the Court. Advocate Kanhaiya Singhal submitted to the Court that temporary jails had been made for quarantine purposes.

The apex court also directed Amicus Curiae Gaurav Aggarwal to submit a report on overcrowding of the prisons.

Aggarwal has further been directed to submit a report on the issue of overcrowding in prisons and Verma has been allowed to submit additional material in the matter.

In March 2020, the Delhi High Court, on its own motion, had directed that the interim bail would be granted to undertrial prisoners in wake of the COVID1-9 pandemic till 15th May, 2020, until further orders. This 25th March order was extended from time to time till October 2020.

A status report had subsequently been filed by the Delhi Government stating that 2318 prisoners had been granted interim bail by the Courts and 2907 prisoners were granted interim bail on recommendation of the High-Powered Committee, and 356 were granted interim bail by the High Court.

The Order dated 25th March had been modified by the High Court in October 2020 wherein it was intimated that there would be no further extension of interim bails granted to undertrials involved in heinous crimes.

Aggrieved by the aforementioned order, the National Forum On Prison Reforms approached the Supreme Court, and taking into account the situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court issued notice on 29th October, 2020, and stayed certain directions rendered by the High Court. This was extended from time to time, with the last extension being granted on 21st January, 2020 till 25th February.

In the meanwhile, the High Court was informed of a decision made by the High-Powered Committee on 17th February, 2021 which recommended the surrender of the prisoners who had been released by way of interim bail. The High Court had accordingly direction the extension of interim bail to 3499 undertrial prisoners for a period of 15 days from the dates of when their interim bails were to expire.

Click here to read/download the order






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