A special court has rejected an application of businessman Deepak Talwar seeking interim bail for two months on medical grounds in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. The proceedings, in a money laundering case, were held via videoconferencing.
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The court observed that Mr. Talwar, on May 21, complained of sore throat and fever and he was provided proper medical treatment in jail and his condition was being reviewed periodically. It directed the jail superintendent to take a medical opinion of the doctor concerned, and if required, he should be tested for COVID-19 and appropriate treatment provided to him.
Mr. Talwar's counsel earlier submitted that he had filed a regular bail application but it could be considered as a plea for interim bail on medical grounds in view of the extraordinary circumstances created due to the spread of COVID-19.
Counsel said Mr. Talwar was above 60 years of age, was a heart patient, diabetic and a patient of hypertension, due to which his immunity system was weak and therefore, he needed special care and attention by his family members and friends.
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It was submitted that the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court , through separate orders, had recently directed the authorities concerned of the States and Union Territories to make a policy for the release of convicts on parole for a longer period of time and the release of under-trial prisoners on interim bail in the existing special circumstances.
A recent medical report of the accused, sent by the jail superintendent, was cited and it was also submitted that he was granted interim bail in another matter.
ED opposes plea
However, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) opposed the plea, arguing that nothing in the application or defence counsel's submissions showed that the jail authorities were not taking care of the accused; and his ailments had not emerged recently.
The ED said the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court had not passed any general order directing the subordinate courts that under-trial prisoners, who were over 60 and suffering from heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, be released on interim bail.
After hearing both sides, the court said: “Undoubtedly, on humanitarian considerations, bail or interim bail may be granted to the accused on medical grounds even if there are serious and grievous allegations against him. The spreading of Coronavirus all over the world is a special circumstance, which is also considered while hearing the interim application.”
But, the court said, Mr. Talwar's counsel had not alleged that the jail authorities were unable to provide adequate medical facilities to him for his general ailments or take measures to protect him from the virus. The medical report in question did not suggest any such reference. It rather showed that he had been provided adequate treatment and that his medical condition seemed to be stable.