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HC asks state prisons if they have enough Covid isolation wards

By Richa Banka, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON SEP 28, 2020 11:30 PM IST

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought to know from prison authorities whether they have sufficient number of isolation wards to accommodate all prisoners who would surrender if the bail extension orders issued by it are recalled.

The query by the court came after a plea was moved before it seeking clarification on interim bail granted to a prisoner in wake of Covid-19.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel, Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh also posed a query to the jail authorities on details regarding the number of Covid cases in the three jails in the national capital, the number of prisoners who were out on bail but needed to surrender next month and the number of isolation wards in each of the three jails.

The high court also issued notice to the director general of prisons, who is in charge of the all three jails — Tihar, Rohini and Mandoli — in the national capital and sought his stand before the next date of hearing on October 16.

The bench also sought the presence of DG Prisons, via video conference, on the next date, but was informed that he was suffering from Covid-19. Thereafter, the court directed that he may appear if he was well or someone can represent him.

The court’s directions comes while hearing a plea seeking modification of two orders — passed on July 13 and July 24 — by which it had clarified that interim bails/parole extensions granted will be applicable to all prisoners who got the relief before or after March 16.

The plea had contended that the two orders were being misused by prisoners by seeking bail on grounds of family illness or some such other such reasons, instead of regular bail, and then getting the same extended on the basis of the high court’s direction.

The plea was filed after additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav had sought a clarification from the HC and the state after he saw that several accused in riots cases had opted for interim bail on humanitarian grounds and later extended it citing guidelines of the high powered committee for decongestion of jail.

The high court said it will not permit misuse of its orders and would recall its extension order if it was being misused.

While expressing concern in the surge of cases of Covid-19 in the national capita, the court also asked the prison authorities if they have sufficient number of isolation wards to accommodate the large number of prisoners who would surrender if the extension orders are recalled.

The high court on August 24 had extended till October 31 all the interim orders, which were to expire on or after August 31 in cases that are before it as also the district courts in view of the pandemic.

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