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SC stays Allahabad HC observations while granting anticipatory bail over fear of death due to Covid

Issuing notice to the accused/respondent, the bench said that in case he does not appear on the next date of hearing, it will be considered to be a good ground for cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to him by the High Court.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 26, 2021 5:38:02 am
Senior Advocate V Giri has been appointed as an amicus curiae to assist the court on the larger issue of whether Covid can be a ground for granting anticipatory bail.(File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the “general observations and directions” made by the Allahabad High Court while granting anticipatory bail to an accused on May 10 on ground of apprehension of death due to fear of Covid-19 infection.

“Keeping in view the totality of facts and circumstances of the present case, we direct that as far as general observations and directions in the impugned order are concerned, the same shall remain stayed and the courts shall not consider the said directions while considering other application for anticipatory bail, which shall be decided on the merit of each case, and not on the basis of observations made in the impugned order,” a bench of Justices Vineet Saran and B R Gavai said while hearing an appeal by the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The bench also appointed senior advocate V Giri as amicus curiae to assist it on the larger questions involved in the matter.

“It is pointed out that larger issues involved as sweeping orders have been given in relation to grant of bail during Covid. In relation to this, we appoint an amicus,” the bench said.

Issuing notice to the accused/respondent, the bench said that in case he does not appear on the next date of hearing, it will be considered to be a good ground for cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to him by the High Court.

Appearing for the state, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the order was being cited in other cases where anticipatory bail is sought and urged the court to stay the observations. He said the order was disputable even on facts. “Please see the record of the respondent. There are 130 cases against him. The HC does not go into merits at all,” he said.

The HC had on May 10 said, “If an accused dies on account of reasons beyond control when he could have been protected from death by the court, the grant or refusal of anticipatory bail to him would be an exercise in futility. Hence, an apprehension to death on account of reasons like the present pandemic of novel coronavirus can certainly be held to be a ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.

Stating that “extraordinary times require extraordinary remedies and desperate times require remedial remedies”, it said “therefore, the apprehension of an accused being infected with novel coronavirus before and after his arrest and the possibility of his spreading the same while coming into contact with the police, court and jail personnel or vice-versa can be considered to be a valid ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused”.

The court directed that in case of arrest, accused Prateek Jain shall be enlarged on anticipatory bail for the limited period till January 3, 2022.

Appealing against the May 10, UP contended that the HC order implies that administration of criminal justice “shall be kept in abeyance during the ongoing pandemic” and the “offenders shall enjoy a free hand while committing crimes with impunity during the ongoing pandemic which is not likely to end in the near future.”

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