The Gujarat High Court extended the period of interim bail for prisoners released pursuant to the recommendations of the High Power Committee, as a measure to decongest jails and curb the spread of Covid infection.
The order for extension has been passed by a bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Ilesh J Vora in the suo moto case registered on the issue of migrant workers and spread of COVID-19 in the state of Gujarat.
“We direct that all those accused who have been released on temporary bail upon recommendations of the High Power Committee shall continue to remain on bail for a further period of forty five days,” the bench has ordered.
Expressing concern over re-confinement of prisoners into jail amid the impending thread of the virus, the High Power Committee observed,
“on the completion of two months period, inmates are supposed to surrender themselves before the jail authority for readmission in jail and as number of inmates are to be admitted in jail again, the transmission of COVID-19 to number of other inmates cannot be ruled out and it is the prime responsibility of jail authority to protect the health of inmates.”
The High Court ordered that the period of interim bail stands extended for a period of 45 days. The bench was also mindful of a similar order passed by the Delhi High Court on May 9, 2020, whereby the High Court had extended the interim bail granted to Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs) for a period of 45 days in light of the continuing COVID19 pandemic.
The Gujarat High Court also made crucial observations with regard to the condition prevailing in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, a dedicated centre for COVID-19 treatment; it reinforced the public duty of private hospitals to deliver adequate healthcare during the threatening times of a pandemic; and also prevented the railways from charging two-way journey fare from the stranded migrants.
Read the order below: