The Delhi High Court Wednesday said no concessions would be given to undertrial prisoners who are able to engage private lawyers but refer to poverty as a reason for not furnishing a bail bond on getting relief.
The court made the observation and issued directions on a PIL by advocate Ajay Verma, who contended that hundreds of people were languishing in Tihar Jail despite being granted bail.
The petition blamed trial courts for not exercising the option of personal bond for financially unstable prisoners and said it was a “misuse of discretionary powers by the judicial system”.
“If undertrials can pay fees to private lawyers, that too in a place like Delhi, why can’t they furnish bail bond,” a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar orally observed.
“You (the prisoners) don’t have to give any cash. A bond is a mere promise to pay, that too, if you flee after getting bail. We are very clear — not even a slightest of concession for those who are not taking legal aid and are able to engage private lawyers,” the bench noted.
It further remarked: “We do not want to give too much relaxation. Enough is enough. Those who are already released are released, we are not going to show too much relaxation.”
The court fixed the matter for further hearing on December 6.
It asked Delhi government’s standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra to apprise it on whether any undertrial has absconded after getting the relaxation of not furnishing a bail bond.
The bench asked Mehra to find whether undertrials, who cite poverty, have been engaging private lawyers to defend them in cases or are getting legal aid.
As per a report by jail authorities, 295 prisoners have been released on bail without a bond.