SC to hear next week UP's plea against HC granting anticipatory bail to cheating accused over COVID infection fear

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New Delhi, May 18 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear next week a plea filed by the Uttar Pradesh government challenging an order of the Allahabad High Court which had granted anticipatory bail to an accused in a cheating case observing that his apprehension of contracting COVID-19 infection while in custody can be a valid ground for granting the relief.

The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a vacation bench of justices Vineet Saran and B R Gavai which said the plea would be heard next week.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, told the bench that the high court had passed the order on May 10 only on the grounds of COVID-19.

“The Allahabad High Court has passed an order granting anticipatory bail to a conman till January 2022 only on the ground of COVID-19,” Mehta said, adding, “The conman has been accused in over 100 cases of fraud.” 'We will hear it next week,” the bench said.

The high court had last week passed the order and directed 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 imposed conditions including that the petitioner shall not obstruct or hamper police investigation and shall not leave the country without prior permission from the trial court concerned.

The high court had said that the Supreme Court recently passed several directions to decongest prisons across India amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

'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,' it had said.

'Counsel for the state has not given any assurance of protection of the accused persons, who are in jail and may be sent to jail, regarding their protection from contacting the infection of novel coronavirus,' it had observed.

The high court had observed that 'extraordinary times require extraordinary remedies and desperate times require remedial remedies'.

'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,” it had said. PTI ABA MNL SJK RT

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