HC extends interim bail to over 3,000 undertrial prisoners by 30 more days

Direction on recommendation by SC-formed committee

The Delhi High Court on Thursday extended the interim bail granted to 3,337 undertrial prisoners (UTPs) by another 30 days to de-congest jails here in view of the ongoing pandemic.

To de-congest jail

The 3,337 UTPs were released under different criteria laid down by a high-powered committee (HPC), which was constituted on the direction of the Supreme Court to decongest jails to prevent the spread of the virus.

A Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh gave the direction on a recommendation forwarded by the HPC to extend the interim bail for a further period of 30 days. The HPC, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, had earlier taken note of the fact that if the 3,337 UTPs are asked to surrender, the total population of Delhi Prison is likely to reach around 20,000, much beyond its sanctioned capacity of just over 10,000.

The HPC, had in its meeting on October 24, said it would be “highly inconvenient” for the jail authorities to accommodate UTPs and convicts released on “interim bail/emergency parole” under its criteria, alongside those who would be surrendering in terms of the court’s orders. On October 23, the court had directed another 5,500 inmates, who were released on interim bail to decongest the Capital’s jails following the outbreak of the pandemic, to surrender back to the jail.

The development came following a decision of the High Court to end its blanket order extending all interim stays and bails granted during the lockdown as the situation has improved.

“Now the situation has changed and all courts are functioning through physical mode/videoconferencing mode,” the High Court had said.

It had then said there is no spread of COVID-19 in the jails as out of about 16,000 prisoners lodged in the prisons only three were infected, who too have been segregated and are admitted to the hospital.

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