New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Putting an Allahabad High Court order on hold, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that anticipatory bail cannot be granted on grounds of fear of death due to COVID-19. 

Observing that the high court's order cannot be used as a precedent for grant of pre-arrest bail, the top court said that anticipatory bail must be granted on the merits of each individual case. 

The Supreme Court order came on a petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh challenging the ALlahabad High Court order which held that alleged offenders should be given anticipatory bail to avoid the spread of COVID-19 due to overcrowding in jails. It said that there is apprehension to the life of accused as well as police and jail personnel.

“Law should be interpreted likewise… the apprehension of an accused being infected with novel coronavirus before and after his arrest and the possibility of his spreading the same while coming into contact with the police, court and jail personnels or vice-versa can be considered to be a valid ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.

“The informant/complainant may take objection to the relief being granted to the applicant and may be dissatisfied from the observations made in this judgment in favour of the accused. However, they should not lose sight of the fact that only when the accused would be alive he would be subjected to the normal procedure of law — of arrest, bail and trial,” it had said earlier this month.

The debate over grant of anticipatory bail on grounds of fear of death due to COVID sparked off when the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Prateek Jain, an accused in a cheating case, for a limited period. 

The UP government told the top court that the reason mentioned in the bail plea had set a wrong precedent and was being quoted by other courts for grant of anticipatory bail.

The Allahabad High Court, in its order, had quoted a Supreme Court ruling earlier this month which 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 prisoners who were granted bail or parole last year. This was done keeping in mind the nature of their offences. Each prisoner's release, therefore, depended on the crime and a recommendation by a panel. 

(With inputs from agencies)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta