SC stays surrender of 2,674 undertrials in Delhi

Supreme Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed an order of the Delhi High Court directing the surrender of 2,674 undertrials, who were released on interim bail in a move to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection within the prison walls in the National Capital.

A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao stopped the implementation of the High Court order of October 20 on the basis of a petition filed by NGO, National Forum on Prison Reforms, represented by advocates Harini Raghupathy, Ritu Kumar and Ankita Wilson.

The prisoners were lodged in 16 jails across Delhi before they were released on bail amid the pandemic.

The High Court had ordered them to surrender from November 2 in a phased manner.

On October 20, the High ourt had ordered 2,300 undertrial prisoners, who were granted bail by district courts, to surrender district-wise from November 2 to November 13. Another 356 prisoners, allowed to go on bail by the Delhi High Court itself, were ordered to surrender before their respective jail superintendents on November 13.

The High Court had however allowed them liberty to apply for extension of their bail.

In its petition the NGO said the order was passed under the “gross misunderstanding” that there were only three cases of COVID-19 amid the 16,000 inmates now.

Secondly, the HC order describing the undertrials as accused in heinous crimes was baseless as the High-Powered Committee which had recommended their release had looked into the facts of the cases.

Finally, the petition said the release of the undertrials on interim bail was based on a suo motu order of the apex court on March 23 in a frantic effort to reduce the number of inmates in the overpopulated prisons of the Capital. At the time, the prison population was 170% above capacity.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:13:56 AM |

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