In Punjab and Haryana High Court, bail petition was filed on grounds that trial is getting delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic and petitioner is feeling insecure in jail since two COVID-19 positive cases were reported in jail. Petitioner was Swaran Singh, an under trial in a drug case confined in Sirsa jail.
Petitioner was booked under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) act at Kalanwali police station in Sirsa on October10, 2019. High Court has dismissed his bail plea in January this year. However, in fresh plea, counsel for petitioners had again sought bail on basis of epidemic due to which petitioner was feeling insecure in jail and deserved concession of jail.
Bail plea was strongly objected by State Government on the ground that around 600 tablets of Tramadol hydrochloride of 100 mg each were recovered from petitioner and said quantity is commercial in nature and therefore the petitioner does not deserve the bail.
High Court had sought a detailed report from the prison authorities, as the matter concerned a large number of inmates in jail and the staff. Responding to which jail authorities submitted a detailed report on the steps taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, which are as follows:
- All newly admitted in-mates kept in special isolation ward/barrack separate from all other inmates till their COVID-19 reports are received. Even after negative reports they are kept in 14 day quarantine ward for 14 days.
- Sanitizer bottles are placed at strategic locations across prison complexes.
- Masks provided to all prisoners and prison staff and disinfected daily.
- Inmates working in common kitchen screened twice a day and utmost hygiene is maintained in kitchen.
- Meetings are stopped till further orders, only allowed in emergency.
- Jail inmates are being produced in courts only through video conferencing as and when required.
- Intermixing of prisoners in different barracks reduced to bare minimum.
- Sports, games, cultural activities and other group activities involving physical contact stopped till further orders.
- An isolation ward was setup in each prison for any kind of emergent situation and jail hospital properly sanitized twice a day.
- Some places around the prison have been identified, which can be used as temporary prison in case of an outbreak of virus.
After hearing all parties and considering the steps taken by prison authorities, the High Court made it clear that prisoners confined in jail cannot claim bail merely on ground that trail being delayed due to COVID-19, as COVID-19 is a nationwide pandemic.
Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri in an order observed, “So far the issue raised by the counsel for petitioner that trial of the case is being delayed because of the spread of COIVD-19 epidemic in the State of Haryana, is concerned, the said spread and delay is not applicable to the petitioner alone. It is a nationwide problem which country is facing today and therefore, the same cannot constitute the sole ground for the grant of bail to the petitioner.”
Punjab and Haryana High Court also considering detailed report submitted by the state jail authorities regarding the steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside jail premises dismissed the bail petition.
For case specific advice on Anticipatory bail/bail IPC Offences one may contact best top expert Criminal Lawyers Advocates of Punjab Haryana High Court Chandigarh Mohali Panchkula Kharar Derabassi Zirakpur.
This post is written by Diwakar Ayyala
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