The High Power Committee headed by Justice Hima Kohli was also of the view that the emergency parole granted to 1,182 convicts, and which were going to expire on or before November 30, be also extended one last time for a further period of four weeks.
The High Power Committee (HPC), which was constituted on the direction of the Supreme Court to decongest jails to prevent spread of COVID-19 there, said taking into account the present population in Delhi jails and the high court''s full bench order directing surrender of around 2,674 prisoners between November 2 and November 13, the authorities would not be able to isolate all the new inmates for 14 days.
In the meeting of the committee held on October 24, the Director General (DG) Prisons informed it that the present prison population, in the jails of Tihar, Rohini and Mandolli, was 15,887 as against a capacity of 10,226 and due to the High Court''s full bench order of October 20, the numbers would increase by 2,674 more.
He said that if the undertrial prisoners (UTPs) and convicts who were granted bail and parole, respectively, based on criteria laid down by the HPC were to surrender also, the prison population was likely to reach around 22,000 which was an unprecedented situation and may even become unmanageable during the prevailing situation.
He also told the HPC that only once the prison population in Delhi had touched 18,000.
He said that in such a situation "it would be appropriate, if interim bail/emergency parole granted to 3,337 UTPs and 1,182 convicts under HPC criteria may be extended for a further period of 30 days".
The HPC agreed with the suggestion, saying even the additional accommodation -- in a newly created temporary jail near Mandoli -- for around 1,800 inmates would not be able to accommodate the prisoners who are surrendering on the directions of the full bench and those who were granted interim bail/emergency parole on the recommendations of the committee as all new and returning prisoners have to be kept in isolation for 14 days.
"Members of the committee are of the opinion that it would be appropriate to prevent any chaos or inconvenience to the jail authorities, if the UTPs/convicts granted ''interim bail/emergency parole'' on the basis of criteria laid down by this committee are asked to surrender from December 2020. As by that time the quarantined/Isolation period of UTPs/convicts surrendering as per orders of the full bench would be over," the HPC said, according to the minutes of the meeting held on October 24.
It directed the Delhi State Legal Services Authority to place its recommendation to extend the interim bail of the 3,337 UTPs before the High Court for appropriate action by way of judicial orders.
A direction was also given to the DG Prisons to send a letter to the Delhi government for issuing necessary orders to extend the emergency parole of the 1.182 convicts by four weeks more.
The HPC, however, made it clear that it would be the final extension as the arrangements of interim bail and emergency parole were made on temporary basis and were 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, these temporary measures cannot be extended till perpetuity," it said.
It also said that it has decided not to further relax the criteria for the purposes of recommending grant of interim bail to the UTPs.
It made clear that the benefit of the criteria, laid down by it, which was to continue till September 30, was not being extended any further.
The HPC said that since the High Court and the subordinate courts are fully functional, the UTPs are liberty to approach them for regular bail and applications for such reliefs would be considered in accordance with law. PTI HMP SKV SMN