The Delhi High Court on Saturday extended the interim bail of 2,177 under-trial prisoners by 45 days to de-congest jails in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh passed the order in view of a high-power committee's recommendation that it would be dangerous to put the prisoners back in jail as the risk still remains high.
The committee, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, on May 5 opined that since there was a paucity of space in jail premises to create sufficient number of isolation wards for the prisoners returning after expiry of their interim bail, the relief should be extended by another 45 days.
During the hearing, Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra and advocate Chaitanya Gosain, appearing for the prison authorities, said they have no objection to the extension of bail.
"Accordingly, it is ordered that the interim bails for a period of 45 days granted to 2,177 UTPs, in view of the recommendations of HPC...are hereby extended by another period of 45 days from the date of their respective expiry of interim bails on the same terms and conditions," the bench said.
It also directed the Director General (Prisons) to ensure that the order was conveyed to all 2,177 under-trial prisoners (UTPs) by telephone and other available modes and listed the matter for hearing on June 22.
The committee, which was formed on the order of the Supreme Court to lay down guidelines to decongest jails and prevent spread of the coronavirus, was also of the view that moving a separate application on behalf of each of the 2,177 UTPs would be "cumbersome" and lead to wastage of judicial time.
Therefore, it had recommended that the high court be requested to pass a judicial order to extend the interim bail of the prisoners by 45 days.
The matter was placed before Chief Justice D N Patel, who on May 7 issued verbal directions to set up the bench on Saturday, May 9.