A three judge bench of the Supreme Court (Justices N. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi) stayed a Delhi High Court order refusing to further extend the interim bail granted to over 2,500 undertrials due to Covid 19 in National Forum on Prison Reforms v GNCTD (SLP [Civ] No. 23367 of 2020) on October 29.
In this Special Leave Petition moved by the National Forum on Prison Reforms, the Supreme Court has stayed the High Court’s decision until November 26, 2020. The Bench also directed the petitioner organisation to serve copies of this petition to the Central Agency and Delhi Government via email.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves and advocates Ajay Verma, Ritu Kumar, Harini Raghupathy, Ankita Wilson and Satya Mitra represented the petitioners and advocate on record, Chirag M. Shroff appeared for the Government of NCT, Delhi.
The petitioners submitted that the Delhi Jails have a capacity of 10,026 inmates but it is already housing 15,900 inmates. Non extension of prisoner’s interim bail orders would lead to severe overcrowding in jails. The Petitioner also informed the Supreme Court that the Director General (Prisons) himself was not in favour of the recall/surrender of inmates as it would increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the jails.
The Supreme Court order read, “there shall be stay of directions (i), (ii) and (iv) given in para 7 of the order dated 20.10.2020 passed by the High Court.”
In the impugned Delhi High Court’s order, point (i) of Para 7 said that the 2318 under trials involved in heinous crimes shall get no further extension from the High court and they should surrender to their respective jails in a phased manner to avoid inconvenience. Point (ii) gave the liberty to these 2318 prisoners to move court for the extension of their interim bails. Point (iv) ordered the 356 prisoners who were granted bail by the Delhi High court to surrender before the concerned jail superintendent(s) on November 13, 2020.
These conditions now remain stayed until November 26 of this year. The High Court had also decided not to extend interim orders passed in civil cases. But the Supreme Court did not put a stay on this aspect of the order.
The order may be read here: