No Relief for Malvinder Singh: Delhi HC dismisses bail plea on COVID19 ground
Malvinder Singh sought bail on the ground that he was suffering from various ailments and there was a risk of COVID-19 infection to him within the jail.
New Delhi: In a major setback to former Religare Enterprises Ltd (RFL) and Fortis Healthcare co-promoter Malvinder Mohan Singh, allegedly arrested in a fund misappropriation case at RFL, the Delhi High Court has denied relief and dismissed bail or parole.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur had rejected the bail application, saying Malvinder Singh was required to be kept in judicial custody for a proper investigation.
Once again, Singh sought bail on the ground that he was suffering from various ailments and there was a risk of COVID-19 infection to him within the jail. Senior Counsel Mukul Rohtagi appeared for Singh and submitted that in view of the verdict of the Apex Court in Suo Moto Writ Petitio in Re: Contagion of Covid-19 Virus in Prisons, the Supreme Court had observed that the issue of overcrowding of prisons is a matter of serious concern particularly in the present context of the pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and that it had become imperative to ensure that the spread of Corona Virus within the prisons was controlled having regard to the provisions of Section 21 of the Constitution of India and verdict of Supreme Court dated 23.03.2020.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and advocate Chaitanya Gosain, appearing for the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), opposed Singh''s plea, saying the offenses allegedly committed by him do not make him eligible for grant of bail or parole as per the HPC''s guidelines. They also told the court that Singh was being kept in an isolation ward and, therefore, social distancing norms were being followed.
The HPC, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, was set up on the Supreme Court''s order to all states to constitute a committee to ensure the decongestion of prisons and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in jails.
After hearing both the parties, A Single-judge Bench of Justice Anu Malhotra dismissed the bail petition while noting that Malvinder Singh does not fulfill the criteria laid down by a high court judge headed by a High Powered Committee (HPC) with regard to grant of bail as he has allegedly committed offences which entail punishment of life imprisonment or a 10-year jail term.
The court observed;
"it is essential to observe that in as much as there are allegations against the petitioner of the alleged commission of economic offenses inter alia punishable under the PMLA Act, 2002 as also punishable under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which is punishable with imprisonment for life or that which may extend to 10 years and to a fine and thus as the case of the petitioner clearly does not fall within the parameters of the guidelines laid down by the Hon'ble High Powered Committee of this Court dated 28.03.2020 nor within the guidelines of the Hon'ble High Powered Committee laid down on 18.04.2020 referred to hereinabove, coupled with the factum that the status report dated 15.05.2020 that is of date as received from the Medical Superintendent of the Central Jail No.8/9, Tihar Jail brings forth that the condition of the applicant is stable, there is no ground whatsoever for the grant of interim bail/parole as prayed on behalf of the petitioner."
The court also observed that as per the status report received from the prison authorities, his medical condition is stable and, therefore, "there was no ground whatsoever for grant of interim bail" to him.
The court further clarified that dismissal of his bail plea will not prevent him from seeking redressal before the HPC.
"..nothing stated hereinabove shall amount to any expression on the merits or demerits of W.P.(Crl.) No.814/2020 nor shall the dismissal of the prayer made by the present petitioner seeking grant of interim bail/ parole prevents the petitioner from seeking redressal, if any, before the Hon'ble High Powered Committee of this Court by moving a representation on lines similar to the observations made vide order dated 07.04.2020 of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition Civil Diary No.10829/2020."