Uttar Pradesh has approached the Supreme Court against a general order on anticipatory bail due to COVID-19 that was passed by the Allahabad High Court last week.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case next week.
Last week the High Court had said that in view of a surge in Covid cases and overcrowding in jails, anticipatory bail – on grounds of fear of death due to death by COVID-19 – could be allowed.
That order has now been challenged by the UP government in the country’s top court.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta requested the Supreme Court to take up the case at the earliest opportunity; he cited the High Court giving anticipatory bail to one Prateek Jain till January 2022.
Jain – a conman – has 130 cases registered against him.
The High Court had said that in view of the spike in Covid cases and excess crowds in jails, the lives of the accused, jail personnel and even police could be at risk. The court had said that in such cases alleged criminals could be given anticipatory bail for a fixed period.
The High Court also quoted a Supreme Court order from earlier this month, in which the latter court said “…prisons in India are overburdened… requirement of decongestion is a matter concerning the health and right to life of both the prison inmates and the police personnel”.
The Supreme Court bench – led by Chief Justice NV Ramana – had ordered the release of all those prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year.
With that in mind the Allahabad High Court said it could not shut its eyes to the fact accused criminals could only be tried if s/he were alive, and that keeping them in jail during the pandemic only increased the chances that they could die before coming to trial.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst-affected states in the second Covid wave, with around 1.5 lakh active cases. This morning the state reported over 9,300 new cases in 24 hours.
Nearly 18,000 deaths have been officially recorded in UP, with 271 registered in the last 24 hours.