UP opposes anticipatory bail citing Covid, SC to hear case next week

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea by the Uttar Pradesh government next week against a Allahabad High Court order, granting anticipatory bail to an accused in a cheating case, after holding that the accused’s fear of contracting Covid-19 in custody is a valid ground for granting the relief.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, submitted before a bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and B.R. Gavai that the High Court had passed the order granting the bail till January 2022 citing Covid-19 on May 10.

Noting that the accused has been accused in over 100 cases of fraud, Mehta sought urgent listing of the matter before the vacation bench.

The bench said: “We will hear it next week.”

Citing the top court’s direction to decongest jails amid the pandemic, the High Court had said: “The observations and directions of the apex court show concern about the overcrowding of jails, and in case this court, ignoring the same, passes an order which will result in overcrowding of jails again, it would be quite paradoxical.”

Imposing conditions on the accused, the High Court directed that the petitioner shall not obstruct or hamper police investigation and shall not leave the country without prior permission from the trial court concerned.

It said that in case of his arrest, the petitioner shall be enlarged on anticipatory bail for the limited period till January 3, 2022.

The High Court had observed: “Therefore, 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 personnel or vice-versa can be considered to be a valid ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.”