The Delhi High Court Tuesday said it was time for prisoners out on interim bail or parole on account of Covid-19 pandemic to return to jails, after it was informed that only three inmates now suffer from Covid-19. A total of 6,711 inmates would have to surrender if the court decides not to extend its blanket order extending the interim bail and parole of prisoners.
The full bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh was hearing a suo-motu case regarding extension in interim bails and parole. Directions were passed by the court earlier to decongest the city’s jails to contain the spread of Covid-19 there.
“We are not concerned with the capacity of jails and the nature of offence. The order was passed only due to Covid and only three persons are there… Hundred or two hundred or three hundred persons are not having Covid,” Chief Justice Patel said.
However, the Delhi government’s senior standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra submitted the state has not brought anything before the court to show the decongestion has led to widespread crime in the city. Mehra also said Covid-19 by “no means is over in Delhi” and there are still a high number of cases.
Mehra also submitted it would be against the spirit of the Supreme Court judgement regarding decongestion of jails during the pandemic. However, CJ Patel observed the “Covid chapter” should close, adding that other avenues for bail and parole exist, and the power of the apex court’s high-powered committee will still remain. “Let them surrender and get bail on merits … in a usual manner,” he said.
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