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Del HC directs surrender of inmates on interim bail

New Delhi, Oct 25 (PTI) Noting that there is no spread of COVID-19 in the jails, the Delhi High Court has directed the surrender of prisoners, who were released on interim bails, in a phased manner, starting November 8.

A bench headed by Justice Vipin Sanghi asked the jail authorities to make appropriate arrangements for the surrender, as scheduled, while also keeping in mind the guidelines issued by the government authorities to contain the spread of the virus.

The bench, also comprising Justices Rekha Palli and Talwant Singh, further directed that the interim orders passed in civil matters, which were given an extension from time to time, shall also cease to have an effect on their respective dates of next hearing.

The court was dealing with a suo motu case taken up by the court to extend interim orders on account of the second wave of the pandemic.

“793 undertrials involved in heinous crimes, who were granted interim bails by the District Courts, there shall be no further extension of interim bails under the orders of this Court.

As far as prisoners who were granted interim bails by this Court are concerned, they shall surrender before the concerned jail superintendent(s) on 20th November 2020,” the court ordered.

The court had taken up the issue of extension of interim orders suo motu earlier this year as it had done in March last year when the lockdown was in place in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Closing the proceedings, the court said that at the relevant time, there was a necessity to extend orders of interim bail and stay because the functioning of courts was curtailed due to complete lockdown declared on April 19.

But now the situation has greatly improved and all Courts at High Court and District Court level are functioning through physical mode/VC mode… There is no spread of Covid-19 in the jails, and out of about 17 thousand prisoners, not even one of them is infected and among prison staff, there is only one active case, it observed in its order passed on October 22.

As per the order, the prisoners of courts under Central District, West District, and New Delhi District shall surrender on November 8, 9, and 10, respectively, and those of East District, North-East District, and Shahdara District shall do so on November 11, 12 and 13, respectively.

The prisoners of courts under North District and North-West District are scheduled for November 14 and 15, respectively while those under the jurisdiction of Rouse Avenue Court shall do on November 19.

The prisoners of courts under South-West District, South District, and South-East District shall surrender on November 16,17,18, respectively.

As far as prisoners who were granted interim bails by the high court are concerned, it was directed that they shall surrender on November 20.

The court clarified that all prisoners were at liberty to move applications for extension of their interim bails before the concerned courts.

It was added that the order of surrender shall not apply to any undertrial who was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court or based on the recommendations of a High-Powered Committee constituted for decongestion of jails during the pandemic.

In its order on April 20, the bench had extended all interim orders till July 16, which were then given further extensions from time to time.