Follow Us :

Introduction: In a recent and impactful move, the Delhi High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the delays caused by jail authorities in accepting bail bonds, leading to prolonged incarceration of prisoners granted bail by the courts. The Single Judge Bench, headed by Hon’ble Mr Justice Amit Mahajan, delivered a noteworthy judgment on February 19, 2024, addressing this critical issue. Let’s delve into the details of the judgment and its implications.

While taking the most strongest exception to the jail authorities most arbitrarily and atrociously taking more often than not the personal liberty of a prisoner for a ride and for granted, the Delhi High Court so very rightly in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Court On Its Own Motion vs Director General Of Prisons, Govt Of NCT Of Delhi in W.P.(Crl.) 673/2024 that was pronounced as recently as on 19.02.2024 took suo motu cognizance of the delay by jail superintendents in accepting bail bonds and releasing prisoners who have been granted bail by courts. In its order, the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Amit Mahajan minced just no words to hold quite frankly in no uncertain terms that the object of granting bail and suspending sentence is to release the accused/convict from imprisonment and it was beyond the Court’s understanding as to why jail superintendents were taking one to two weeks for accepting the bail bonds. The Bench while wondering aloud queried that, “In certain cases, interim bails are granted on medical grounds or some other exigencies, as expressed by the applicant. In such a scenario this Court fails to understand why the period of one to two weeks be taken by the Jail Superintendent for accepting the bail bonds.”

We need to note that the Bench also added that, “The Court while passing order at times directs that the bails bond be directly furnished to the Jail Superintendent. The prisoner is not remitted to the Trial Court in order to facilitate the immediate release. The delay at the instance of the Jail Superintendent in accepting Bail Bonds is not acceptable to the conscience of this Court. Let the matter be registered as suo motu petition and numbered.” We need to further note that the Bench sought responses from the Director General of Prisons and Standing Counsel (Criminal) of Delhi government on the pressing issue. The Bench most sagaciously also referred most robustly to the time tested principle stating that, “Deprivation of Liberty for a single day is a day too many.” We must also pay our primary attention here to the relevant point that the Bench thus took suo motu cognizance of this key issue while dealing with a modification application that had been filed by a convict whose sentence was suspended on February 8. The Court lamented that any order passed by the Court directing release of prisoner from jail is sent directly to the jail authorities through Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) cell and yet delays were happening. So the Delhi High Court was thus left with no option but to register the matter as a suo motu case. Very rightly so!

At the very outset, this recent, robust, rational and remarkable judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Amit Mahajan of Delhi High Court sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “By order dated 08.02.2024 in CRL.REV.P. 1362/2023, the sentence awarded to the petitioner therein was suspended and he was directed to be released on bail on certain conditions and on furnishing a bail bond to the satisfaction of the Jail Superintendent.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 2 that, “An application was filed pointing out that the bail bond which was directed to be furnished to the satisfaction of the Jail Superintendent, has not been processed. The grievance raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner was that, despite the sentence being suspended by this Court by the order dated 08.02.2024, the petitioner has not yet been released.”

As we see, the Bench observes in para 3 that, “The petitioner was compelled to approach this Court seeking modification in the order dated 08.02.2024 to the extent that the petitioner be directed to furnish the bail bond to the satisfaction of the learned Trial Court instead of the concerned Jail Superintendent.”

Simply put, the Bench mentions in para 4 that, “It was alleged that the formalities in relation to the acceptance of bail bond by the Jail Superintendent takes approximately one to two weeks.”

Most significantly, the Bench minces just no words to propound in para 5 that, “The object of granting bails and suspending sentences is to release the accused/convict from imprisonment. In certain cases, interim bails are granted on medical grounds or some other exigencies, as expressed by the applicant. In such a scenario this Court fails to understand why the period of one to two weeks be taken by the Jail Superintendent for accepting the bail bonds.”

Most remarkably, the Bench while citing a recent and relevant case law states in para 6 that, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has time and again reiterated the principal – “Deprivation of Liberty for a single day is a day too many..”. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.4/2021, has issued guidelines for the compliance of bail orders, The same are reproduced as follows:

““1) The Court which grants bail to an undertrial prisoner/convict would be required to send a soft copy of the bail order by e-mail to the prisoner through the Jail Superintendent on the same day or the next day. The Jail Superintendent would be required to enter the date of grant of bail in the e-prisons software [or any other software which is being used by the Prison Department].

2) If the accused is not released within a period of 7 days from the date of grant of bail, it would be the duty of the Superintendent of Jail to inform the Secretary, DLSA who may depute para legal volunteer or jail visiting advocate to interact with the prisoner and assist the prisoner in all ways possible for his release.

3) NIC would make attempts to create necessary fields in the e-prison software so that the date of grant of bail and date of release are entered by the Prison Department and in case the prisoner is not released within 7 days, then an automatic email can be sent to the Secretary, DLSA.

4) The Secretary, DLSA with a view to find out the economic condition of the accused, may take help of the Probation Officers or the Para Legal Volunteers to prepare a report on the socio-economic conditions of the inmate which may be placed before the concerned Court with a request to relax the condition (s) of bail/surety.

5) In cases where the undertrial or convict requests that he can furnish bail bond or sureties once released, then in an appropriate case, the Court may consider granting temporary bail for a specified period to the accused so that he can furnish bail bond or sureties.

6) If the bail bonds are not furnished within one month from the date of grant bail, the concerned Court may suo moto take up the case and consider whether the conditions of bail require modification/ relaxation.

7) One of the reasons which delays the release of the accused/ convict is the insistence upon local surety. It is suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety.”

We order that the aforesaid directions shall be complied with” (emphasis supplied).”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 7 that, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.4/2021 also passed directions to adopt the procedure termed as ‘FASTER’ for Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records, in order to reduce the delay caused in forwarding the orders granting bail to the Jail Authorities.”

Delhi HC Registers Suo Motu Case On Delay By Jail Authorities In Accepting Bail Bonds

Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 8 that, “The Rule 7 is incorporated in part E of the Chapter 14 of the Delhi High Rules & Orders, the same reads as under:

I. The following Rule shall be introduced as Rule 7 after the existing Rule 6 of Part E of Chapter 14 of Delhi High Court Rules & Orders, Volume I:-

“7. Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER):

The e-authenticated copies of the interim orders, stay orders and record of proceedings of the courts transmitted through Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) System shall be valid for compliance of the direction contained therein.”

II. The following Rule shall be introduced as Rule 7 after the existing Rule 6 of Part H of Chapter 25 of Delhi High Court Rules & Orders, Volume III:-

“7. Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER):

The e-authenticated copies of the interim orders, stay orders, bail orders and record of proceedings of the courts transmitted through Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) System shall be valid for compliance of the direction contained therein.””

To be sure, the Bench then notes in para 9 that, “Any order passed by this Court thereby directing the release of the prisoner from jail is sent directly to the concerned jail authorities through FASTER cell.”

Quite forthrightly, the Bench observes in para 10 that, “The Court while passing bail order at times directs that the Bails bond be directly furnished to the Jail Superintendent. The prisoner is not remitted to the Trial Court in order to facilitate the immediate release.”

Most forthrightly, the Bench postulates and directs in para 11 that, “The delay at the instance of the Jail Superintendent in accepting Bail Bonds is not acceptable to the conscience of this Court. Let the matter be registered as Suo Motu petition and numbered.”

Further, the Bench directs in para 12 that, “Let notice of the present petition be issued to the Director General of Prisons and Standing Counsel (Criminal), Government of NCT of Delhi.”

Truth be told, the Bench points out in para 13 that, “Ms. Nandita Rao, learned Additional Standing Counsel, who is present in Court, disputes the aforesaid position. She submits that the petitioner’s case is possibly an aberration and delay normally does not occur on the part of the Jail Superintendent.”

Furthermore, the Bench directs in para 14 that, “She is requested to accept notice in the present case and file an appropriate affidavit.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 15 that, “List for compliance on 07.03.2024.”

All told, we thus see quite distinctly that the Delhi High Court manifestly makes it clear that delay by jail authorities in accepting bail bonds is just not acceptable. It thus merits no reiteration that all the courts in India must similarly take a zero tolerance view when it comes to the personal liberty of the prisoners and should not allow the police to take it for granted and must hold them accountable whenever they err in this direction and suo motu take cognizance as we see so very rightly, rationally and robustly being taken by the Delhi High Court in this leading case. No denying or disputing it!

Conclusion: The Delhi High Court’s suo motu registration of this case underscores the importance of timely processing of bail bonds by jail authorities. It sends a strong message about the judiciary’s commitment to protecting the personal liberty of individuals, emphasizing that delays beyond the mandated time are unacceptable. The directive for compliance and responses from prison authorities further highlight the need for immediate corrective measures. This judgment serves as a significant step towards ensuring a more efficient and accountable criminal justice system.

Join Taxguru’s Network for Latest updates on Income Tax, GST, Company Law, Corporate Laws and other related subjects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Post by Date
April 2024
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930