Delhi High Court has refused to grant interim bail to Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Singh, who had cited the possibility of catching COVID19 in prison as a reason to seek relief.
While denying the relief, the Single Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta noted that Shivinder Singh is allegedly involved in offence punishable with more than 7 years of sentence and in more than one case and that too under PMLA and hence does not qualify to be released pursuant to directions of the High Powered Committee.
On 29th March, 2020, the petitioner had applied to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority for his release for eight weeks in view of the COVID19 however, till the filing of the present petition, no response was received either from the Delhi State Legal Services Authority or High Powered Committee.
On 31st March, 2020, he approached the Supreme Court seeking interim bail due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which came up before the court on 3rd April, 2020, when it was allowed to be withdrawn to approach the High Court.
The Petitioner argued that with the overcrowding in the jails, no social distancing can be maintained and thus, there is every likelihood of him being infected with COVID19.
He further submitted that with the kind of experience he has in the health sector, he should be given an opportunity to do community service by grant of interim bail so that his efforts can result in an all India outreach and he will be able to initiate utilization of available infrastructures with the Government and the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) after interacting with officers of the various ministries and hospitals including private hospitals.
He also informed the court that the investigation against him is complete in all the three cases, the evidence is primarily documentary in nature.
Delhi Government opposed the present plea by arguing that it is not maintainable as it has been filed as a writ petition and though there is no prayer challenging the criteria of the High Powered Committee, however, the Petitioner still urges that as a ground for grant of interim bail.
The state further submitted that as per the guidelines of the High Powered Committee, the Petitioner is not entitled to interim bail as he does not fulfil the following criteria:
In light of these submissions, the court rejected the bail plea by noting that the petitioner has been lodged in a Cell where he is alone and hence, as far as social distancing is concerned, the same has adequately been taken care of.
The court further noted that if the government requires the cooperation of the Petitioner, they would be at liberty to take the same through various means including Video Conferencing as is done in all the cases.
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