Person Kept In Judicial Custody Despite Issuance Of Release Warrants? Delhi High Court To Consider

In a habeas corpus petition filed seeking release of the petitioner/detenu from Tihar Jail, the Delhi High Court recently expressed dismay over continuing detention of the corpus, noting the contention that he had already been admitted to bail.

“We are constrained to note that due to disputed status of cases against the petitioner, he has not been released and forced to stay behind bars”.

The petitioner urged that he was in custody since 2014 and had obtained bail in most cases for non-bailable offences. In July, 2023, release warrants were issued in his respect by CMM, Saket Court as well as by JMIC, Gurugram at some point. Yet, release was not processed by jail authorities.

Further, he disputed the nominal roll placed on record, averring that 189 cases were pending against him, instead of 389 as mentioned in the nominal roll. It was his case that the nominal roll reflected even cases which did not exist, which had been dismissed or where he was not a party.

During the proceedings, it transpired that though cases were stated to be pending against the petitioner, little-to-none record was available pertaining to the bail status after furnishing of bonds.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Shalinder Kaur directed Principal District & Sessions Judge of Patiala House Court and Saket Court (District South and South East both) to verify the status of cases against the petitioner.

“In the light of the fact that the status of cases pending against the petitioner is highly disputed, we find that interest of justice would be met if the exact position and status of cases pending against the petitioner before different courts is examined.”

The status report to be so prepared has further been directed to be verified by the JS concerned and the petitioner’s counsel with their own records. Specific directions have been issued to the JS on preparation of their own status report. The matter is next listed for 28.11.2023.

Notably, the court was informed earlier that the petitioner was in judicial custody at Tihar Jail w.r.t. two FIRs, in which, as per petitioner’s Pairokar, he had been enlarged on bail and requisite bail bonds furnished.

Being of the view that there was no “legal justification” to keep the petitioner in custody, the court had directed that he be released “forthwith”, subject to verification of the Pairokar’s contention. A copy of the order was directed to be electronically communicated to the concerned JS.

Subsequently, it came forth that production warrants w.r.t. the petitioner were received from certain courts in 8 cases, and thus, he could not be released.

Ms. Anannya Ghosh, Mr. Brian Henky Moses, Ms. Chitra Vats, Ms. Ioel Bose & Ms. Darika Sikka, Advocates appeared for petitioner

Mr. Yasir Rauf Ansari, ASC (Criminal) with Mr. Alok Sharma & Mr. Vasu Agarwal, Advocates appeared for respondents with Mr. Abhijit Shankar, Law Officer (Tihar)

Case Title: Sunil Kumar Dahiya v. The Director General of Prisons & Anr., W.P.(Crl) 2786/2023

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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