Blanket extension of bails must end: HC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday remarked that its blanket order extending interim bail and parole to prisoners following the COVID-19 pandemic should come to an end.

The full Bench headed by Chief Justice D.N. Patel made the observation after the Delhi govt. in an affidavit stated that the number of infected persons in jails stands at six.

“Let us bring to an end the COVID chapter. Let these people surrender or go back to jail. We passed the order in view of the pandemic. Our order has nothing to do with overcrowding of jails. We are not concerned by the nature of the crimes,” the court said, adding it would sit together and take a decision on whether to extend the order.

The government, in response to a query from the HC during the last hearing, stated that over 5,500 prisoners have been granted interim bail since the pandemic outbreak. These include 2,318 prisoners involved in heinous crimes; 2,907 inmates involved in minor crimes; and 356 other prisoners.

During the hearing, Director General (Prisons) stated that the prisoners who are released on interim bail or parole continue to remain outside in view of the blanket order passed and extended from time-to-time by a full Bench of the High Court.

The DG (Prisons) also stated that the three jails — Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli — together have a capacity of around 10,000, but currently there are 15,900 prisoners in them.

The court was hearing an application, moved by one of the prosecutors dealing with the north-east Delhi riots cases in the trial courts, seeking modification of the High Court’s July 13 and July 24 orders by which it had clarified that its orders extending interim bails or paroles would be applicable to everyone granted the relief before or after March 16.

The application alleged that the two orders were being misused by the accused in the riots cases by seeking bail on grounds of family illness or some other reasons, instead of seeking regular bail, and then getting the same extended on the basis of the court’s direction.

The lawyer told the Bench that around 20 accused in the riots cases were out on interim bail on some pretext and are now enjoying the benefits of the High Court’s blanket order.

Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, appearing for DG (Prisons), said that removing the blanket order would go against the spirit of the Supreme Court’s order to decongest jails during the pandemic.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 7:47:53 AM |

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