The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to interfere in the decision of the High Powered Committee set up on March 25, on the orders of the Supreme Court in order to decongest Jails in view of the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus
The Bench comprised of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta along with Justice S.S. Shinde heard the matter, whereby the bench said that
“any of the petitioners is covered by the decision of the High-Powered Committee, he shall be at liberty to apply for bail and if such application is filed, we have no doubt in our mind that the appropriate Court shall proceed to dispose of such application in accordance with law. Those of the petitioners not covered by the decision of the High-Powered Committee shall nevertheless be at liberty to approach the appropriate forum for redress, in accordance with law”.
This writ petition was presented on 27th March 2020 by around 900 under-trial prisoners lodged in Yerwada Correctional Home. The relief claimed was in relation to due compliance of an order dated 23rd March 2020 passed by the Supreme Court in Suo motu Writ Petition (Civil), which required constitution of a High Powered Committee to look into the matter relating to overcrowding in Correctional Homes and to take measures for decongesting such homes by determining the categories of under-trial prisoners who could be released on interim bail and convicts serving sentences, who could be considered for release on parole.
Immediately after the order of the Supreme Court in Suo motu Writ Petition (Civil) on 23rd March 2020, the High Powered Committee was constituted and it had taken a decision on 25th March 2020 determining categories of under-trial prisoners as well as convicts who could be released during the period the nation continues to be under lock-down. The High-Powered Committee in a meeting subsequently held on 11th May 2020 has taken a further decision in modification of its earlier decision dated 25th March 2020, whereby further categories of under-trial prisoners have been determined who could be released on interim bail.
Therefore, the Bombay High Court held that
“Having regard to the turn of events, noticed above, the prayer of the petitioners does not survive. There has been due compliance of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and, therefore, the writ petition has been rendered infructuous. It stands disposed of accordingly”.
-India Legal Bureau