Supreme Court Dismisses Medha Patkar's Plea for Interim Release of Prisoners Charged Under Special Acts
The Court in its verdict stated that the prisoners charged under the special enactments or convicted for more than 7 years can still apply for bail in accordance with the law.
Medha Patkar moved SC against Bombay High Court's verdict
On September 14, Medha Patkar and her organization, National Alliance of People's Movements, along with social activist Meera Sadanand Kamath filed a plea in the Supreme Court in which the Court had reserved orders.
The Supreme Court said in its decision that it will not interfere with the decision of Maharashtra High Powered Committee's (HPC) to not release prisoners charged under special Acts on interim bail in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian had allowed the Maharashtra High Powered Committee to reconsider its decision to only allow the release of a set of prisoners in view of the on-ground situation.
While giving reasons for not interfering with the decision of the High Powered Committee, the Supreme Court stated: "What has been curtailed by the HPC by excluding certain categories is only with a view to denying the benefit to a certain category of jail inmates who are charged with serious offences which has an adverse effect on the society at large through the length of the punishment that can be imposed may be lesser."
However, the top Court allowed the prisoners charged under the special enactments or convicted for more than 7 years to apply for bail in accordance with the law.
Cause of grievance will only arise in case of discrimination
While stating that the HPC has not denied any right of the prisoners the Court said, "All that the HPC has denied them is the benefit of seeking interim bail only on the ground that they are entitled to be released on bail in view of the Covid19 situation and no other legal right has been denied."
The Court also stated that a cause of grievance would only arise if a prisoner is discriminated against by the HPC "as against the prisoner in the same category for which the benefit has been provided by the categorisation made by the HPC."
Petitioners can make a representation to the HPC
The Court allowed the petitioners to obtain necessary statistics and if any modification of the guidelines is necessary in future, "they will be at liberty to submit an appropriate representation to the HPC which would in that circumstance look into the same and arrive at a conclusion at its discretion depending on the need or otherwise to modify its guidelines".
CJI Bobde said that the Court will pass a detailed and reasoned order in response to Advocate SB Talekar's submission that almost 2,500 prisoners are infected with COVID-19, and that more than 10 prisoners are dying every day.
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