New Delhi [India], March 6 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has directed all the 3,499 Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) who were granted interim bails amid COVID-19 under the various criteria laid down by the High Powered Committee (HPC), shall surrender before the concerned Jail Superintendent upon the expiry of the period of their interim bail commencing from March 7.
The order also applies to the UTPs who have not obtained regular bails from their Court concerned, or any other superior court to its court concerned.
"As the 3499 UTPs were admitted to interim bails on different dates, accordingly the period of their interim bails will expire with efflux of time on different dates. Therefore, there is no requirement to fix any specific date for the surrender of these 3499 UTPs," the court said.
A Division Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh said that it is "not inclined" to further extend the period of interim bail of 3,499 UTPs granted under various criteria laid down by the High Powered Committee in its several meetings.
"Needless to say that all these UTPs may invoke the jurisdiction of the concerned Court for grant of regular bail. The concerned Courts on the filing of applications by such UTPs may consider the same on merits, in accordance with the law," Court said.
The court said that the Director General (Prisons) shall ensure that this order is conveyed to all the 3499 UTPs by telephone, as well as, through all other available modes. Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, DSLSA shall coordinate with the Director General (Prisons) in this regard.
The court order came after taking note of recommendations made by the High Powered Committee.
The committee has taken note of the improved situation with respect to COVID-19 in the Delhi NCR Region as compared to the one which existed last year.
This committee was constituted by the Supreme Court owing to unprecedented circumstances created due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting into lockdown and restricted functioning of the Courts, and for decongesting the jails, so that the principle of social distancing can be followed and spread of COVID-19 can be prevented inside the prisons.
Members of the Committee also reminded themselves that the subsequent order dated April 13, 2020 of Supreme Court, whereby it has clarified that it has not directed the States to compulsorily release the prisoners.
The Members of the High Powered Committee while making the observations and recommendations had taken stock of COVID-19 situation inside the jail premises and they had also gone through the Delhi State Health Bulletin on Covid-19 of last 3 weeks so as to assess the current situation of COVID-19 in Delhi NCR.
The High Court has also taken note of direction passed by the Supreme Court dated March 1, 2021, whereby 2318 prisoners granted interim bails by trial courts and 356 prisoners granted bail by the High Court have been asked to surrender within 15 days.
The Delhi High Court on March 25, 2020, took suo moto notice of outbreak of COVID-19 and ordered that all matters pending before this court and courts subordinate to this court, wherein such interim orders issued were subsisting as on March 16, 2020 and expired or will expire thereafter, the same shall stand automatically extended till May 15 or until further orders.
Since the lockdown was extended from time to time by the government with few relaxations and the restrictive functioning of the Courts continued, so the order dated March 25, 2020 was extended from time to time on 15th May, 2020, 15th June, 2020, 13th July, 2020, 31st August, 2020 and lastly vide order dated 24th August 2020, the interim orders were extended till 31st October, 2020. (ANI)