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High Powered Committee Rejected Extension of Interim Bails

  High Powered Committee Recommended No Further Extension

The committee constituted for the decongestion of Delhi prisons, has recommended in the minutes of the meeting not to further extend the interim bail period of Undertrial prisoners, on the basis of the explanation given by the Directorate General Of  Delhi Prisons Mr. Sandeep Goel, wherein the meeting was held on 17/02/2021 and the attendees were Sandeep Goel D.G (Prisons) B.S.Bhalla, Principal Secretary (Home), GNCTD Kanwal Jeet Arora Member Secretary, DSLSA Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vipin Sanghi Executive Chairperson DSLSA.

In the meeting, it was again reiterated that the pandemic COVID19 has negligible effects in Delhi as well as in Delhi Prisons, and all the SOP, S is given by them are being followed according to ICMR rules and regulations. In the previous meeting held on 14/01/2021, it was clarified and resolved that if the committee will see that in case the COVID-19 situation remains the same or shows a declining trend, then it shall not recommend the further extension of emergency parole for the convicts on grounds of COVID-19.

Below are the statements given by the committee:

Minutes of Meeting dated 17th February 2021 at 5:00 p.m. through Video Conferencing (Cisco Webex) under the Chairpersonship of Hon’ble Mr.Justice Vipin Sanghi, Judge, High Court of Delhi & Executive Chairperson, Delhi State Legal Services Authority

The Meeting was attended by the following Officers /Members of the High Powered Committee through Video Conferencing:
1. Shri B.S. Bhalla, Principal Secretary (Home), Govt. of NCT of Delhi……Member
2. Shri Sandeep Goel, Director General (Prisons), Delhi ……Member
3. Shri Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, Delhi State Legal Services
Authority (DSLSA).

Agenda: Effective implementation of the directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Suo Motu Petition (Civil) No.1/2020 – In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 vide its orders dated 23.03.2020 and 13.04.2020.


Sh. Sandeep Goel, D.G. (Prisons) apprised the Hon’ble Chair about concerted efforts being made by the officers and officials of Jail Administration in following and complying with the guidelines, instructions and resolutions passed by this Committee in its earlier meetings. He further informed that by scrupulously complying with the resolutions adopted earlier they have been successful in keeping a check on cases of COVID-19, and have thus been successful in bringing down the number of active cases of COVID–19 (Novel Corona Virus) inside the jail premises. D.G. (Prisons) informed the committee through his letter No.PS/ DG(P)/2020/275-280 dated 15.02.2021 that the cumulative figure of COVID -19

Positive cases in Delhi Prisons as on 15.02.2021 is as under:

Prison Inmates : 120 (117 recovered, 02 expired, 01 Active case)
Prison Staff : 293 (293 recovered, NIL Active cases)

D.G. (Prisons) during the course of the meeting brought it to the knowledge of the Committee that one inmate Gaya Prasad S/o Ram Samai Pal who is a convict reported for his surrender after completion of emergency parole in Temporary Jail Mandoli on 14.02.2021. He apprised the Chair that at the time of his surrender he was tested for COVID-19 by rapid antigen test in which he was found positive. D.G. (Prisons) further informed that said inmate has been admitted in Burari Hospital, Govt. of NCT of Delhi where he is recuperating.
The Committee is apprised by DG (Prisons) that the above a mentioned inmate who was tested positive for COVID-19 did not catch the infection inside the jail premises, rather he was tested positive at the time of
surrender after the expiry of the period of emergency parole.

D.G. (Prisons) has further informed the Chair that all fresh entrants who after arrest are sent to jail are being medically screened and are being tested for COVID-19 as per ICMR guidelines. D.G. Prisons has further apprised the Chair that UTPs/convicts at the time of their surrender on expiry of period of interim bail/emergency parole,
are being tested for COVID-19 by Rapid Antigen Test and if found positive, they are referred to Burari Covid Care Hospital, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, New Delhi. D.G. (Prisons) further informed that the other new entrants in
terms of the resolutions adopted by this Committee in its earlier meeting are being kept in Isolation Cells created in the Temporary Jail, Mandoli for an initial period of 14 days, so as to so as to prevent their intermingling with other inmates who are already inside the jail. It is resolved that the precautionary measures for jail staff and new entrants including one’s coming back to surrender after expiry of period of interim bail/emergency parole/furlough, as recommended in the earlier meetings shall continue to be followed.

D.G. (Prisons) has assured the Members of the Committee that all the resolutions passed by this Committee and Protocols which were set in place by this Committee after deliberations in its earlier meetings, shall continue to be
followed in the jail premises.

D.G. (Prisons) has further informed the Committee that owing to the improved situation they have started the Family Mulaqat with the inmate once in a week and Legal Muklaqat which was earlier being done virtually is
now switched to physical mode. He further assured the Committee that during these Mulaqats all the necessary precautions of social distancing and masking are being followed.

The committee is satisfied with the steps being taken by D.G. (Prisons) in following its resolutions, which has helped in bringing down the cases of COVID-19 inside jail premises, as is evident from the actual figures. Committee directed D.G. (Prisons) to continue following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and other Protocols as resolved earlier to tackle the threat of COVID-19 inside the jail premises, i.e.:

a. Restricted visits of outside agencies, including NGOs.
b. Restriction of movements of inmates outside the wards in Jails.
c. Sanitization and disinfection of the lodgment areas of the inmates and residential complexes of staff, on regular basis.
d. All new inmates are pre-screened at CPRO before lodging them in jail.
e. Procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kit, Mask, Gloves, Alcohol-based hand rubs and Soaps.
f. Formation of Special Task Force (STF) for Contact Tracing of suspected COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus) cases in all Jails.
g. Psychological screening of newly admitted inmates to properly manage their mental health issues.
h. Emphasis on Kitchen hygiene and proper handling of vegetables and other essentials by personnel in kitchen/
i. Completion of Vaccination Drive of prison staff, who are Front Line Workers till 01.03.2021


Considering the possibility of COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus) entering the jail premises through Jail Staff, para-military staff and medical staff, besides others and its outbreak amongst the inmates, deliberations were made by the Committee about the additional measures to be taken.

On being asked by the Chair regarding implementation of resolutions adopted in the previous meeting, D.G. (Prisons) has informed that all the officers and officials of Jail Administration are strictly abiding by all those directions and have adopted multi-pronged strategies to tackle the spread of COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus) through Jail Staff and others, to the inmates.

D.G. (Prisons) has further informed the Chair that in terms of the directions given by this Committee for conducting “Rapid Test” of above-referred jail staff according to ICMR guidelines, they have started getting this test conducted of the jail staff, as per need.

D.G. (Prisons) has further informed that wearing of Mask by the jail staff has been made mandatory and they have been cautioned to maintain social distancing while interacting with the inmates. Committee is satisfied with the above steps being taken by D.G. (Prisons) and directed them to continue following the same. It is resolved accordingly.


Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, DSLSA has informed the Committee that a letter dated 15.01.2021 was written by him to Ld. Registrar General, High Court of Delhi in terms of directions given in the meeting of this
Committee dated 14.01.2021.

He further informed that on the basis of said letter, Hon’ble SpecialBench in “Writ Petition (Civil) 3080/2020“, titled “Court on its own Motion Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Anr.” vide its order dated 18.01.2021 extended the ‘interim bail’ so granted to the 3499 UTPs for a further period of 30 days from the date their earlier interim bail is expiring.


Number of inmates released pursuant to the criteria adopted earlier in terms of the orders passed by the Division Bench of High Court of Delhi dated 23.03.2020 as well as on the basis of criteria adopted by High Powered Committee vide meetings dated 28.03.2020, 07.04.2020, 18.04.2020, 05.05.2020, 18.05.2020, 20.06.2020, 31.07.2020, 30.08.2020, 24.10.2020, 28.11.2020 and 14.01.2021 is put up before the Committee. Besides the number of inmates released pursuant to criteria adopted earlier, Committee has further perused the number of UTPs released on Personal Bond, on the basis of orders passed by Hon’ble High Court in W.P. (Criminal) No.779/2020. The figures are also mentioned in letter of D.G. Prisons, bearing No.PS/ DG (P)/2021/257-258 dated 10.02.2021.

The same was perused by the Committee which is as under:-


UTPs released on interim bail till 09.02.2021 131



UTPs released pursuant to modification of bail orders by Hon’ble High Court in W.P.(Criminal) No.779/2020   310

Convicts released on Emergency Parole




Convicts released on remission of sentence till 10.02.2021




TOTAL UTPs/ CONVICTS RELEASED ON INTERIM BAIL/PAROLE/ REMISSION OF SENTENCE TILL 10.02.2021 as part of a decongestion effort under the aegis of Hon’ble HPC



D.G (Prisons) has informed the Committee that period of extended interim bail granted to UTPs vide orders of Hon’ble Division Bench of High Court dated 18.01.2021 is going to expire w.e.f. 20.02.2021 onwards.

Members of the Committee have taken stock of the COVID-19 situation inside the jail premises as is mentioned in Agenda Item No.1. Members of the Committee have further gone through Delhi State Health Bulletin on
COVID-19 of last 3 weeks so as to assess the current situation of COVID-19 in Delhi NCR. The same in tabulated form is as under:

Date                          Test Conducted              Positive Case             Positivity rate

26.01.2021                      64973                                  157                            0.24%

27.01.2021                      29855                                    96                            0.31%

28.01.2021                      57993                                   199                           0.34%

29.01.2021                      58725                                   249                           0.42%

30.01.2021                      68967                                   183                           0.27%

31.01.2021                      60695                                   140                           0.23%

01.02.2021                      43712                                   121                           0.28%

02.02.2021                      58598                                   114                           0.19%

03.02.2021                      56658                                   150                           0.26%

04.02.2021                      67234                                   158                           0.24%

05.02.2021                      59964                                   154                           0.26%

06.02.2021                      63322                                   123                           0.19%

 07.02.2021                     54247                                   119                           0.22%

08.02.2021                      55390                                   125                           0.23%

09.02.2021                      56410                                   100                           0.18%

11.02.2021                      64328                                   142                           0.22%

12.02.2021                       63022                                 141                            0.22%

13.02.2021                       60876                                 126                            0.21%

14.02.2021                       56902                                 150                            0.26%

15.01.2021                       39065                                 141                            0.36%

 16.02.2021                      56944                                   94                            0.17%

17.02.2021                       59886                                 134                            0.22%

Having gone through the improved situation with respect to COVID-19 in Delhi NCR Region as compared to the one which existed last year, Members of the Committee, reminded themselves of the object for which it was formed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in “Suo Motu Petition (Civil) No.1/2020 – In Re: Contagion of COVID-19″ i.e. for determining class/category of prisoners who can be released on interim bail/parole depending not only
upon severity of offence, but also on nature of offence and/or any other relevant factor.

This Committee was constituted by Hon’ble Supreme Court owing to the unprecedented circumstances created due to the Pandemic, resulting into lockdown and restricted functioning of the Courts, and for decongesting the
jails, so that principle of social distancing can be followed and spread of COVID-19 can be prevented inside the prisons. Members of the Committee also reminded themselves of the subsequent order dated 13.04.2020 of Hon’ble
Supreme Court, whereby Hon’ble Supreme Court has clarified that it has not directed the States to compulsorily release the prisoners.

On the basis of directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Membersof the Committee reminded themselves that for fulfilling the objects of its formation, it is to be kept in mind that the benefit of interim bail granted in such circumstances, cannot be to the detriment of social order. Members of the Committee are of the opinion that this arrangement was made on temporary basis and was never meant to supplement the otherwise recognized ‘principles of grant/refusal’ of bail. Further, these measures were taken when owing to the lockdown and prevailing circumstances there was restricted functioning of the Courts. The situation however has changed considerably now, therefore, this temporary measures cannot be extended till perpetuity.

Keeping in mind the orders No.40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 30.09.2020 passed by Govt. of India regarding Unlock-5 effective from 15.10.2020, and taking into consideration consequent change in circumstances including the Office Order No.35/RG/DHC/2021 dated 14.01.2021 of Hon’ble High Court whereby all the Courts including High Court of Delhi and Courts subordinate thereto have resumed functioning through physical mode/Video Conferencing mode, this Committee, has decided not to further relax the criteria for the purposes of recommending grant or extension of interim bail to the UTPs.

Members of the Committee have also gone through the Minutes of last meeting wherein, it was resolved that if the situation of COVID-19 in Delhi remains the same or reveals a declining trend, no further extension of interim bail shall be made by this Committee on the aspect of COVID-19. All such UTPs thus were adequately notified to move their respective Courts seeking regular bail through their private counsel Best Lawyers In Delhi or by panel lawyer of DSLSA, as the case may be, for grant of regular bail.

Consequently, Members of the Committee are of unanimous opinion that in terms of the present COVID-19 situation in Delhi and also considering that number of COVID-19 positive inmates inside the jail premises are negligible, if compared to the present prison population, thus, there are no grounds for recommending further extension of interim bail.
It is resolved accordingly.

Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, DSLSA apprised the Members of the Committee that on the basis of recommendation of this Committee in its earlier meeting for extension of interim bail granted to UTPs under various criterias laid down, Hon’ble the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court had constituted a Special Bench, which took up the matter vide “W.P.(C) 3080/2020, titled “Court on its own Motion Vs. State” . He further apprised that
the said matter is listed now for tomorrow i.e. 18.02.2021.

The Committee directed Kanwal Jeet Arora, Member Secretary, DSLSA to inform the Hon’ble Bench about the resolution passed by this Committee today and to request the Hon’ble Bench to pass appropriate orders and dispose of the petition. It was though clarified earlier but the same is being reiterated again that the criteria adopted by this Committee for release of prisoners on “Interim Bail” in its meetings dated 28.03.2020, 07.04.2020, 18.04.2020,
05.05.2020, 18.05.2020, 20.06.2020, 31.07.2020, 30.08.2020, 24.10.2020, 28.11.2020 and 14.01.2021 shall in no way affect the rights of other UTPs, who do not stand covered under these categories, from invoking the jurisdiction of concerned courts for grant of regular/interim bail. The concerned courts on filing of applications by such UTPs may consider the same on merits, in accordance with law. It is further clarified that non-recommendation of extension of interim bail by this Committee shall also not affect the rights of UTPs from approaching the concerned Courts for grant of regular bail to them.

It is though apparent but is still being clarified that interim bail was granted to UTPs under the criteria laid down by this Committee by different Courts on different dates for a period of 45 days. This period of interim bail was extended on recommendations made by this Committee by Division Bench of Hon’ble High Court in “W.P.(C) 3080/2020, titled “Court on its own Motion Vs. State”, initially vide orders dated 09.05.2020 for a period of 45 days from the date their respective interim bails were expiring and the same were extended from time to time on 22.06.2020, 04.08.2020, 18.09.2020, 02.12.2020 and lastly on 18.01.2021 for a further period of 30 days. Considering that these 3499 UTPs were granted interim bail on different dates, thus their interim bails shall expire
in a phased manner, therefore, no separate dates are required to be given for their surrender.

D.G. (Prisons) and Jail Administrations shall ensure that all these UTPs are informed about the date on which their respective interim bails are expiring and that they are required to surrender on said date.


Members of the Committee have gone through the resolutions adopted in its last meeting wherein it was resolved that in case COVID-19 situation remains the same or shows declining trend, then it shall not recommend further extension of emergency parole for the convicts on grounds of COVID-19.

Members of the Committee having gone through the COVID-19 situation in NCT of Delhi and inside the jail premises and as discussed hereinabove in Agenda Item No.4 have resolved that emergency parole of the convicts need not be recommended for extension to Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

D.G. (Prisons) has informed that as on date 184 convicts have already surrendered who at the time of their surrender have been tested for COVID-19 through Rapid Antigen Test.


Members of the Committee have deliberated upon the aspect of separating the new entrants in jail either through fresh arrest or surrender on account of expiry of interim bail/parole/furlough, so that they should not intermingle with the inmates already inside the jail immediately after their entry in the jail premises.

Members of the Committee directed D.G. (Prisons) to house these new entrants on their surrender in Isolation Cells for an initial period upto 14 days. Members of the Committee have further resolved that all the new
entrants on their surrender shall be tested for COVID-19 by Rapid Antigen Test.

D.G. (Prisons) has brought it to the knowledge of Committee that they have already started testing the fresh entrants through Rapid Antigen Test and in case anyone is found positive, he/she shall be referred to Burari Covid Care Hospital, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, New Delhi whereas others shall be kept in Isolation Cells upto 14 days before being sent to regular jail.

Principal Secretary (Home) as well as D.G. (Prisons)informed the Chair that, for the creation “Isolation Cells”, in the Police quarters in the Police Housing Complex adjoining Mandoli Jail, Delhi which has been termed as “Temporary Jail” by Govt. of NCT of Delhi vide Notification bearing No.9/70/2020/HG/2427-2441 dated 31.07.2020.

D.G. (Prisons) has also informed the Chair that Police Housing Complex, Mandoli consists of 12 Towers, each having 30 flats. With respect to their use D.G. (Prisons) has submitted that as of now 06 towers out of 12 towers viz. B, C, D, E, I & J are fully functional as “Temporary Jails”. It is also submitted that at present they have housed 308 UTPs and 25 Convicts in these towers, which have been converted into “Temporary Jail”. He has submitted that Towers G, H, K & L are also ready for housing the inmates. He also submitted that the two towers i.e. A & F have been kept reserved for accommodating outside security forces, so that their intermingling with jail staff is minimized.

Upon being apprised about the fact that inmates have been presently housed in the “Temporary Jail”, and others are likely to be housed on their surrender, the Chair enquired about the security measures put in place by the Prison Authorities, in the said “Temporary Jail” for ensuring safety and security of the inmates; and for also ensuring that no untoward incident takes place while the inmates are housed in “Temporary Jail”.

In response to the Chair’s curiosity for the safety and security of the inmates housed in the “Temporary Jail”, D.G. (Prisons) apprised the Chairabout adequate measures undertaken for ‘safety’ and ‘security’ of the inmates housed in the “Temporary Jail”.

He assured that all necessary precautions as per the Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.) and other protocols to be followed at the Jails, for the safety and security of the inmates, have been put in place in the “Temporary Jail”. He also informed that requisite support has been taken by the Prison Administration from P.W.D to seal the portions of the “Temporary Jail”, so as to check the unnecessary movement of the inmates inside the “Temporary Jail”, especially restricting their accessibility to the Balconies of the Flats/Apartments which have been converted into “Temporary Jail”. As such, the chances of escape of inmates from the Temporary Jails have also been checked and necessary precautions have been taken.

D.G. (Prisons) has further informed that once all Towers are made fully functional, then this “Temporary Jail” can house about 2000 inmates. The Committee after getting this information from D.G. (Prisons) is of the view that
the problem of creation of “Isolation Cells” for the new entrants in jails stand solved to a considerable extent.

In an eventuality of UTPs/Convicts surrendering in Delhi jails, pursuant to any order passed by the Court of Law, the Chair suggested that all such UTPs/Convicts may be housed initially for a period upto 14 days in the Temporary Jail before sending them in the concerned Jail. D.G. (Prisons) assured the Chair to comply with this suggestion. It is made clear that fresh male inmates who are between 18 to 21 years of age and fresh women inmates shall continue to be kept in separate “Isolation Cells” at Jail No.5 and 6 respectively at Tihar and Jail No.16 Mandoli, in terms of the earlier resolution.
It is resolved accordingly.


Member Secretary, DSLSA brought to the notice of the Committee a representation dated 15.02.2020, received via email dated 15.02.2021 of one Sher Singh S/o Late Shri Tej Singh who is a convict undergoing sentence for a
period of five years in Central Jail No. 1 w.e.f. 28.08.2018.

Members of the Committee have perused the representation whereby the applicant has stated that he is a senior citizen suffering from several ailments including cancer. He apart from seeking further extension of his emergency parole has also requested for extension of emergency parole/interim bail to the convicts/UTPs who are senior citizens with comorbid conditions.

For effective considering the representation, Members of the Committee have considered it pertinent to refer to order dated 23.03.2020 of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suo Motu Petition (Civil) No. 1/2020 – In Re: Contagion of COVID-19, vide which this High Powered Committee was constituted. The same reads as under:

“We direct that each State/Union Territory shall constitute a High Powered Committee comprising of (i) Chairman of the State Legal Services Committee, (ii) the Principal Secretary (Home/Prison) by whatever designation is known as, (ii)Director General of Prison(s), to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate. For instance, the State/Union Territory could consider the release of prisoners who have been convicted or are undertrial for offences for which prescribed punishment is up to 7 years or less, with or without fine and the prisoner has been convicted for a lesser number of years than the
maximum. It is made clear that we leave it open for the High Powered Committee to determine the category or prisoners who should be released as aforesaid, depending upon the nature of offence, the number of years to which he or she has been sentenced or the severity of the offence with which he/she is charged with and is facing trial or any other relevant factor, which the Committee may consider appropriate.”
(emphasis supplied)

Hon’ble Supreme Court while disposing of the above-mentioned petition vide its subsequent order dated 13.04.2020 clarified its earlier order as under:

“We make it clear that we have not directed the
States/Union Territories to compulsorily release the
prisoners from their respective prisons. The purpose of our
aforesaid order was to ensure that States/Union Territories to
assess the situation in their prisons having regard to the
outbreak of the present pandemic in the country and release
certain prisoners and for that purpose to determine the
category of prisoners to be released.
We make it clear that the aforesaid order is intended to be
implemented fully in letter and spirit.”
(emphasis supplied)

On bare perusal of the observations/directions given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its order dated 23.03.2020, it is apparent that the High Powered Committee so constituted was given an absolute discretion to determine which class/category of the prisoners can be released on interim bail or parole depending not only upon the severity of the offence, but also the nature of offence or any other relevant factor. It is further apparent on perusal of the subsequent order dated 13.04.2020 of Hon’ble Supreme Court whereby it was clarified that it has not directed the States/Union Territories to compulsorily release the prisoners from their respective prisons.

Thus, no prisoner in whatsoever category/class he falls and whatever nature of offence he is facing trial, can seek or claim to be released from prison as a matter of right.

This Committee while arriving at its decision in earlier meetings as well as in laying down the criteria today for release of the categories of prisoners on interim bail/emergency parole had taken into account the overall holding capacity of Delhi Prisons and also the nature of offences for which the inmates were lodged in jails. The Committee while deliberating upon the categories/class of prisoners depending upon the nature of offence for which
they were in jail had also taken into account the age and illness factor vis-à-vis the threat perception of COVID-19 situation at the relevant time, for considering them for grant of interim bail/parole.

The committee had also considered to exclude certain nature of cases under the Special Acts like POCSO, MCOCA, PC Act, NDPS, PMLA, UAPA, Terror related Cases, Rape Cases under Section 376 IPC besides those which have been investigated by CBI/ED/NIA/Special Cell of Delhi Police, Crime Branch, SFIO, to be excluded from consideration zone for being released on ”interim bail”. The said decision was taken only after considering the relevant factors and on the basis of objective satisfaction arrived at by the Committee.

The criterias were adopted taking into consideration class/ category of offences in mind and not on a particular prisoner-centric approach. The object was only to release some of the prisoners and not all the prisoners on a reasonable classification arrived at on the basis of orders passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court, intending to implement the same in letter and spirit. The submissions made in the representation in hand, relates more or less to the applicant only. However, the Committee as stated earlier, was not formed to look into merits or demerits of an individual case for being released on emergency parole/interim bail, rather it was formed to lay down a criteria
taking into consideration a particular class and not any particular prisoner or inmate.

In view thereof, this Committee is of the opinion that the representation is unmerited and the same is accordingly rejected. However, the applicant is at liberty to file appropriate application before the Concerned Authority, seeking the relief sought by him in the present representation. Minutes of this Meeting be implemented by all concerned, in
anticipation of the signatures of Members and Chairperson of the Committee.

Meeting ended with Vote of Thanks to the Chair.

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