The Supreme Court of India today said that anticipatory bail cannot be granted on grounds of fear of death due to COVID-19. The court made the observation while staying an order of the Allahabad High Court which had granted bail on this apprehension. The Allahabad High Court had also said in its order that Uttar Pradesh lacks preparation and resources to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and hence the arrested person is at risk of contracting the virus. The High Court had made the observations while hearing an anticipatory bail plea of Prateek Jain, who was charged under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 506 and 406 of the Indian Penal Code.
The apex court also said that courts shall not consider the Allahabad High Court’s directions while granting anticipatory bail and should make a decision based on the merits of each case, reported Bar and Bench.
The Uttar Pradesh government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court order. The UP government had submitted that the High Court order implies that administration of criminal justice shall be kept in abeyance during the ongoing pandemic and the offenders shall enjoy a free hand while committing crimes.
The Allahabad High Court had said that apprehension of an accused being infected with novel coronavirus before and after his arrest and the possibility of his spreading the same can be considered to be a valid ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused. The High Court also said that extraordinary times require extraordinary remedies adding that law should be interpreted in a manner that is in tune with the desperate times.