Prisoners out on temporary bail cannot report to police station via video calling: HC
The Bombay high court rejected a plea which sought permission for undertrials out on interim bail to report to concerned police stations through video calling.
The state while opposing the plea said that as the location of the undertrial, which is one of the conditions of release recommended by the high power committee (HPC), could not be ascertained through video calling, the HC should not permit the plea.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice NJ Jamadar while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Geeta Jain, independent MLA from Mira-Bhayander constituency through advocate Sunny Punamiya was informed that as per the Supreme Court directions to decongest jails, a HPC was constituted to recommend conditions for releasing the undertrials and convicts on interim bail or parole. The HPC stipulated that undertrials released under the arrangement would have to report once every 30 days to the jurisdictional station house officer.
While making submissions in the PIL, on Tuesday, through video conferencing, Punamiya said that due to the spread of Covid-19, such prisoners should be allowed to report to the concerned police station or officer through video calling so that physical reporting was not required.
The state through public prosecutor Deepak Thakare, along with additional public prosecutor SR Shinde, however, argued that if physical reporting was dispensed with and the undertrial was permitted the facility of a video call, the police could find it difficult to readily ascertain, in all cases, as to the location of such released undertrial prisoner, more particularly whether he is residing within the jurisdiction of the station house officer or not.
Thakare further submitted that in case such a released undertrial prisoner violates the condition of bail, if any, of not leaving the jurisdictional limits of a particular police station and hides in unknown territory, the police would face immense difficulties in tracing him out, if he fails to surrender upon expiry of the temporary period of bail. In light of these submissions, the state sought dismissal of the PIL.
After hearing the submissions, the court accepted the contentions of the state and said, “We do not propose to introduce any such arrangement, the possible ills whereof could largely out-weigh the intended benefits.” The court further observed that it did not wish to tinker with the recommendations of the HPC and hence was dismissing the PIL.