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Under-Trial prisoners to be released on bail on furnishing personal bond only: DelhiHC

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday has modified the bail orders passed by itself and courts subordinate to it, on or before 7th April, 2020, thereby doing away with the condition of furnishing surety bond & instead, allowing the under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendent of Jail.

A divisional bench Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri took Suo moto cognizance of the issue after a communication received from Member Secretary, Delhi Legal Service Authority (DSLSA) in terms of the Resolution of the High Powered Committee.

High Powered Committee was constituted pursuant to the directions passed by Supreme Court in Suo Motu case Re:Contagion of Covid 19 Virus in Prisons concerning inter alia decongestion of prisons, due to outbreak of pandemic COVID-19 Coronavirus.

High Powered Committee in its Resolution raised the issue that there are many Under-Trial Prisoners who have already been granted bail but are still in jail as they are unable to furnish sureties. Members of the Committee while resolving quoted that “…UTPs (Under-Trial Prisoners) in whose favor, the bail orders were passed by different courts may have been incapacitated to furnish bail bonds and surety bonds, owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 and scant working of the courts, thus, the bail orders qua such UTPs are required to be modified, to the extent that they may be released on furnishing “Personal Bond”, with rest of the conditions if any, imposed remaining unaltered.”

Whereas, the Committee also recommended the court that any other conditions if laid down in the bail application by the Delhi High Court or and Court subordinate to it, may not be interfered with or changed.

The Court considered the recommendation made by the High Powered Committee and said, “We have considered the recommendation of the HPC in the context of the submission of Mr. Rahul Mehra, Advocate and are of the view that in view of the unprecedented prevailing circumstances and the matter of decongesting the prisons with which the Supreme Court was concerned in the writ petition aforesaid, and without creating any precedent, a case for modifying the bail orders passed either by this Court or by any court subordinate to it, on or before April 7, 2020, thereby doing away with the condition of furnishing surety bond and instead, allowing the under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendant of Jail, is made out.”

“Thus all bail orders, passed by this Court or by the Courts subordinate to it, on on or before 7thApril, 2020, in pursuance whereto the under-trial prisons have not been released on bail owing to failure to satisfy the condition of furnishing surety bond, are modified and be read as granting bail without the condition of furnishing surety bond and instead allowing such under-trial prisoners to be released on their furnishing personal bond to the satisfaction of Superintendent of Jail,” said Court.

Delhi Government Senior Standing Counsel (Criminal Side) Mr. Rahul Mehra, has also pointed out that there is no list of cases in which inspite of bail order, the under-trial prisoners continue to languish in prison because of failure to furnish surety bond.

Court said, “We are confident that the D.G. (Prisons) would be in a position to collate all the said orders and cases with the assistance of Member Secretary DSLSA and Principal Secretary (Home), GNCTD who are also requested to do the needful for compliance of this order.”

-India Legal Bureau

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