Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court
Litigation News

Submit report on pendency of temporary bail applications filed in the wake of COVID-19: Bombay HC to Principal District & Sessions Judges

The High Court passed the order after being informed by Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, that as on the last Tuesday, 11,527 applications for temporary bail were pending before the Magistrates/Sessions Courts.

Aishwarya Iyer

The Bombay High Court has called for reports from Principal District & Sessions Judges on the number of pending temporary bail applications filed by the inmates of correctional homes in Maharashtra in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to the recommendations of the High Powered Committee (PUCL and anr v State of Maharashtra and Ors).

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice SS Shinde directed that the report must include all bail applications filed till June 12 along with the dates of presentation of such applications.

Such information, as per the High Court order, has to be indicated in separate reports to be filed by June 15.

Adding that the matter will be next heard on June 16, the order reads,

"A compilation of the facts and figures shall be made by the Registrar (Legal and Research) and placed before the Bench for consideration on Tuesday next (16th June, 2020), when both these Petitions shall be listed once again."
Bombay High Court

The High Court passed the order after being informed by Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, that as on the last Tuesday, 11,527 applications for temporary bail were pending before the Magistrates/ Sessions Courts.

Desai pointed out that such pendency tends to frustrate the spirit of the March 16 order of the Supreme Court to decongest prisons amid the pandemic, as well as the recommendations of the High Powered Committee constituted for the purpose.

Desai also raised concern over inadequate COVID-19 testing of asymptomatic prison inmates in the State, particularly referring to reports that 60 inmates in the Solapur prison facility and 20 in the Aurangabad correctional home had tested positive for COVID-19.

In response the High Court has directed the ADG, Prisons to furnish information on the following :

  • the protocol being followed for testing of asymptomatic inmates who are in direct and high risk contact of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19; and

  • the authenticity of the submissions that inmates have passed away upon testing positive for COVID-19.

It was further brought to the Court's attention that although the inmates were permitted interactions with family members through phone calls, there existed a circular dated February 12, 2019 issued by the prison authorities which provided for wider interaction which may be extended to the prison inmates.

In this regard, the ADG, Prisons has been directed to consider extending the benefits as per the said circular, given that the burden for prison administration should have been reduced as a number of inmates have been released on temporary bail.

The Court added that if such benefits are denied, the Prison authorities should indicate reasons for such denial by way of a report.

Read the Order here:

Peoples Union Civil Liberties & Anr. v State of Maharashtra and ors.pdf
Preview
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com