The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed an order directing more than 2,300 under trials to give up after the Delhi high court ended the arrangement by which interim bail of prisoners used to be automatically extended to prevent overcrowding of prisons all the way through the Covid-19 pandemic.
A three-judge bench of Justices LN Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi stayed the October 20 order issued by a three-judge bench of the Delhi HC headed by Chief Justice DN Patel. The order came on a petition filed by National Forum on Jail Reforms argued by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves.
The high court had directed 2318 under-trials involved in heinous offences to give up in a phased manner latest by November 13. Approximately the remaining 2,907 prisoners, whose interim bails were extended by HC’s preceding orders, a high powered committee used to be set up on the orders of the Supreme Court for deciding their give up on a case to case basis.
The apex bench said, “There shall be stay of instructions (i), (ii) and (iv) provided in paragraph 7 of the impugned order dated October 20 passed by the High Court.” The stay would function till November 26 when the bench will hear the jail authorities and Delhi government on the petition.
Gonsalves told the apex court that the order of the HC will result in widespread confusion as prisoners will be forced to approach different trial courts.