The Delhi High Court on Wednesday extended the interim bail of around 3,499 undertrial prisoners by a further 45 days to de-congest jails here because of the persisting coronavirus pandemic. The decision of the high court was based on the recommendation of the high powered committee (HPC) constituted on the direction of the Supreme Court to decongest jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh passed the order in view of the HPCs recommendation to give a 45-day extension in interim bail granted to 3,499 undertrial prisoners on the basis of criteria laid down by the committee so that their surrender does not overwhelm prisons in the national capital, which are already filled beyond capacity.
The committee in its meeting of November 28 had said the sudden spurt of COVID-19 cases in Delhi reflects there is no certainty when the threat of pandemic shall be over and if the interim bail of these undertrial prisoners (UTPs) was not extended and if they are asked to surrender, then they might bring the infection with them. “The committee is, therefore, of the considered opinion that no such chance/risk can be taken and thus resolved that interim bail granted to 3,499 UTPs needs to be further extended for a period of 45 days,” the HPC had said.
It had also recommended extension by six weeks of the emergency parole granted to 1,183 convicts which is set to expire on January 9, 2021.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, appearing for the prison authorities, confirmed that the interim bails have been extended by 45 days by the bench headed by Justice Mridul.
The interim bail of prisoners released in accordance with criteria laid down by the HPC was last extended by the high court on November 5 by 30 days based on the October 24 recommendation of the committee.
In its latest meeting held on November 28, the HPC said it had hoped that the situation would improve by now, but the COVID-19 situation has taken a 360 degree turn.
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