A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice K K Tated was hearing the state’s response on granting temporary bail pleas raising concerns over several inmates and jail staffers testing positive for Covid-19.




The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said that trial courts must not unnecessarily keep pending temporary bail pleas seeking release of prisoners, following Supreme Court guidelines to decongest jails, after a rights’ group argued that over 14,000 such pleas are yet to be decided by courts across the state.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice K K Tated was hearing the state’s response on granting temporary bail pleas raising concerns over several inmates and jail staffers testing positive for Covid-19. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and another petitioner, Archana Rupawate, had moved the HC seeking relief for prisoners.

Senior Counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for PUCL, said that although the state has taken steps to bring down the number of inmates, over 14,000 bail pleas are pending before different courts and sought that they be decided in a time-bound manner.

The court observed, “As per guidelines, the relevant courts, to the best of its ability and with the resources available at its disposal, have seen striving to take appropriate steps to dispose of as many bail pleas and in the light of the guidelines, no direction as such is required to be made, since we hope and trust that no application for bail shall be kept pending unnecessarily.”

The state, in its reply, said 23 temporary jails have been set up in different districts for newly arrested inmates. It added that while Maharashtra prisons can accommodate 24,000 inmates, the current population in jails as on May 10 was 34,000. The state said that to maintain social distancing norms, the capacity of barracks will be reduced by two-third.

Directing the government to respond to the plea, the court posted the matter for further hearing on June 9.

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