In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court on Friday observed that while implementing lockdown orders, law enforcing agencies have to frequently deal with individuals or group of individuals being violent and disrupting sanitisation work and said that the Mumbai Police, which is already dealing with maintaining law and order during COVID-19 pandemic, cannot be burdened with work related to bail pleas in the courts.
A single judge bench of Justice A M Badar made these observations while hearing a bail application by one Sopan Ramesh Lankejar booked for cheating and criminal breach of trust.
Refusing to entertain the bail plea, Justice Badar said that since the boundaries of all districts are sealed, even if a prisoner is released on bail, it may not be possible for the person to reach his destination without risking life due to the outbreak.
The court observed, “In this situation, the prisoner by remaining inside till completion of lockout period will help and save the life of many others. But in case he is released on bail at this time, he will endanger his own life along with the life of many others.”
Noting that there are incidents of assault on nurses, doctors, para medical staff and Police, Justice A M Badar said, “Such anti-social elements are seen loitering and thereby breaching the lockdown orders.” He added, “In such a situation, presence of 100 percent members of Police force on the field, rather than in the Court, is absolutely essential for a limited period of lockdown.”
The bench further observed in the order, “The entire law enforcing machinery is focusing on implementation of the lockdown throughout the State by virtually remaining on the field for 24 hours. This is being done for saving the entire nation from the pandemic.”
Observing this, the Court said that in such situation, it is not advisable to insist the state to depute police officers to instruct government lawyers.
In view of the lockdown in the state and to avoid overcrowding in the High Court , Justice Dharmadhikari on March 23 made an appeal to lawyers and litigants not to file non-urgent matters as directed earlier, failing which exemplary costs will be imposed on them.
Posting further hearing after lockdown period, the court said in its order that release of an accused or convict at the costs of breaching lockdown order and risking lives of many persons cannot be considered to fall within the category of “extreme urgent matter.”
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