BY -Shiva Chandra
The High-powered committee commissioned by the supreme court of India
has decide to release the under-trial prisoners on interim bail and also announced criteria for application.
The outbreak of corona virus commonly known as COVID-19 throughout the globe has creating a messy situation. Out of such, one is jails in India which was filled with the prisoners. The Supreme court which was much aware of jails in India has constituted a High- Powered committee under the leadership of Delhi High Court Judge and Legal service authority executive member- Justice Hima Kohli.
The High-powered committee after looking into various aspects, had decided to relax the release of under trial prisoner norms for their interim bail purpose. This decision was taken by the High- powered committee after a video conference meeting with Delhi Principal secretary, Director General of Prisons, Delhi State Legal Service Authority. All of them came into the consensual decision of the relaxation of norms. As per the committee’s rules the prisoners who are eligible for the grant of interim bail are:
Person facing trial which prescribes a maximum sentence of 7 years and less.
The person who was in the custody of jail for a month.
In case of women, if she is in the custody for period of 15 days.
Persons who are excluded from the committee report are:
Prisoner who are undergoing trial under Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances act.
Prisoners who are facing the trail under section 4 and 6 of Prevention of Children from sexual Offences,
Prisoners who are facing trial under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D and 376E of Indian Penal Code and acid attacks.
Prisoners who are of foreign nationals.
Cases which investigating by Central Bureau of Investigation/ Enforcement department and etc.
Prisoners facing trial under Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
From the sources of jail authority, it can be expected that approximately 800 prisoners or going to release in few days. And many of the applications are being filed for the interim bails by the prisoners and their relatives for their bail.
QUESTION OF LAW(CRITETIA : RELEASE OF UNDER TRIAL PRISONERS ON INTERIM BAIL):
The act of High-powered committee’s relaxation of norms in order to make available of interim bail to the under-trial prisoners, is due to the pandemic which was prevalent in the country, which led to invocation of EPIDEMIC ACT and NATIONAL DISASTER MANGEMENT ACT. The invocation of the above acts is to cease the alarming rate of positive cases in the country. Section 4 Epidemic act: Protection to persons acting under Act. No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or in good faith intended to be done under this Act. Section 10(2)(l) of National Disaster Management Act: lay down guidelines for, or give directions to, the concerned Ministries or Departments of the Government of India, the State Governments and the State Authorities regarding measures to be taken by them in response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
The above two acts were invoked in order to curtail the virus.
Bail means temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial. Whereas interim bail is like temporary bail which may be granted till the time your regular bail is pending before a court. The definition of Bail is not enshrined in the code of criminal procedure but comes under the ambit of bailable offences [sec 2(a)] and non bailable offences. The bail is granted as per the procedure prescribed in the code.
CONCLUSION(CRITETIA : RELEASE OF UNDER TRIAL PRISONERS ON INTERIM BAIL):
The release of under trial prisoners from the jails is one of the bold move, keeping in mind the health of the prisoners, in order to curtail the wide spread of virus. Indian jails are more fully packed and there is chance of quick spread of virus from people to people which can create a catastrophe which cannot be handled so release of some prisoner from the jail is good move, at least the prisoners inside can follow social distance which the decrease of mob in jail. At the same time, a strict vigilance has to be made on those people who are going to release, because there are chances of tampering the evidences and also threatening the witness can be made, which made lead to denial of justice.
The virus has shown that how bad our jails are. In the course of time, the government must focus on jail infrastructural reforms. In future, if another endemic or pandemic broke out, rather than releasing the prisoners, we must be fully equipped with to tackle the situation.