COVID-19: Offences of dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom not covered for interim bail under HPC guidelines

The High Power Committee (HPC) headed by a Delhi High Court Judge, set up to decongest jails during the COVID-19 pandemic, has clarified that offences like dacoity, robbery and kidnapping for ransom are not covered under its criteria for granting interim bail to prisoners.

Headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi, the Committee issued the clarification as one of the high court judges sought to place the issue before the panel for guidance of benches — dealing with the pleas for interim bail to undertrials facing trial under Sections 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) and 397 (Robbery, dacoity with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) of the IPC — to avoid conflicting orders.

Merely because specified offence – like offence under section 302 (murder) IPC, that too with a rider, was included in the class/category of cases recommended for grant of interim bail, it does not mean that offences like dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, etc. were also included. Such cases were consciously kept out, the committee said in the minutes of meeting on September 8.

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In view of the deliberations held, it is unanimously resolved and clarified that offences like dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, etc. are not covered in the criteria laid down by this committee in its meetings dated May 4, and May 11, 2021, the HPC said.

The HPC was constituted last year on the direction of the Supreme Court to decongest jails and take steps to prevent spread of COVID-19 there.

The committee, however, reiterated that those inmates whose cases are not covered in the criteria laid down by it can still file application seeking bail before the concerned court which, if filed, may be considered by the concerned courts on merits.

It referred to April 13, 2020 order of the Supreme Court that it had not directed the states or union territories to compulsorily release the prisoners from their respective prisons.

Thus, no prisoner irrespective of the category/class of offence that he/she may be involved in, can seek or claim that he/she be released from prison, as a matter of right, it said.

The committee further said considering that when such offences, which prescribe punishment for 10 years up to life imprisonment, were not included in the first place in the class or category while laying down the criteria, there was no question of putting these offences in the exclusion clause.

It said it was apparent that in the criteria so adopted the inmates who were facing trial for an offence which prescribes punishment of 10 years upto life imprisonment and are not involved in multiple cases were included. This criteria was restricted with respect to those inmates who were suffering from HIV, cancer, chronic kidney dysfunction (UTPs requiring dialysis), hepatitis B or C, asthma, and TB.

Other inmates who were facing trial in a case which prescribes punishment for more than 10 years upto life imprisonment were not included in the recommended categories for being released on interim bail, except for the specified offences mentioned in the criteria so laid down, that too with the riders attached, it said.


(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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