New Delhi, Oct 29 : The Supreme Court has stayed the order of the Delhi High Court discontinuing its blanket order extending all interim stays and bails granted prior to and during the Covid-19 lockdown after October 31.
An apex court bench comprising Justices L Nageshwar Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi also issued notice over the petition challenging the high court order.
The plea said that the high court, while passing this order, had brushed aside, without even perusing, the eight recommendations/orders of High Powered Committee (HPC) of the Delhi High Court appointed by the apex court for the release of prisoners on account of the possibility of Covid spreading in the 16 Delhi jails.
The plea, filed through advocate Satya Malik and argued by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, stated that 2,318 under-trial prisoners whose bail would be cancelled, would have to approach the trial courts for continuation of bail, and that itself would create confusion and stress on the lower courts.
The court also stayed few of the directions issued by the high court in its October 20 order.
The high court had, in its order, directed that there shall be no further extension of the interim bails granted to the 2,318 under-trial prisoners who were involved in heinous crimes.
“As far as the first category of 2,318 undertrials involved in heinous crimes, who were granted interim bail by the district courts, there shall be no further extension of interim bails under the orders of this Court,” a three judge bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh had said.
“However, to facilitate their surrender before jail authorities and to avoid any inconvenience being caused to the jail authorities during surrender of a large number of under trials, it is ordered that the surrender shall take place in the following phased manner,” it had said.
The court had, however, directed that the said 2,318 prisoners are at liberty to move the respective courts for extension of their interim bail and the courts concerned shall consider the said applications for extension of interim bails on its own merits and take a decision accordingly without being influenced by any order passed by the court in the past.
Jail authorities were asked to make appropriate arrangements to ensure surrender of the prisoners as detailed above and take all required steps in view of the guidelines issued by the government from time to time to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Delhi High Court on March 25 took suo moto notice of outbreak of Covid-19 and ordered that all matters pending before it and courts subordinate to it, wherein such interim orders issued were subsisting as on March 16 and expired or will expire thereafter, the same shall stand automatically extended till May 15 or until further orders.
Since the lockdown was extended from time to time by the government with few relaxations and the restrictive functioning of the Courts continued, so the order dated was extended from time to time on May 15, June 15, July 13, and lastly by order dated August 24, the interim orders were extended till October 31.
In its latest order, the bench directed the HPC to take a decision in respect of 2,907 prisoners, who have been granted bail on the committee’s recommendation, within 10 days.
With regard to interim orders in the civil matters, the court said that all such interim orders shall cease to have effect on the next date of hearing in the said matters.
“However, the parties in the said matters are at liberty to move the concerned courts for extension of the interim orders and the said courts shall consider extension of the interim orders on merit without being influenced by any orders passed by this Court in this matter,” the bench said.
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