DGP must issue Directions to police to adhere to SC Guidelines in Arnesh Kumar vs. the State of Bihar: Madhya Pradesh HC2 min read

BY-OJAITRA ARORA

New Delhi: Earlier this month, Supreme Court had held that the authorities should not make any arrests in violation of the guidelines laid down in the judgment of Arnesh Kumar vs. the State of Bihar. In 2014, the judgment had held that the arrests should be an exception in offenses with imprisonment of fewer than 7 years.

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court felt the urgency to restate the Arnesh Kumar verdict to curb arrests. It has also stated that the High Powered Committees should consider the release of prisoners at the earliest by following the guidelines.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq & Justice Atul Sreedharan directed a High Powered Committee to make recommendations in connection with the release of prisoners of different jails in the State as it was hearing a suo moto writ petition filed in view of the upsurge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the outbreak. Senior Counsel, Chander Uday Singh, and amicus curiae, Sankalp Kochar suggested that under-trial prisoners who were on interim bail and were facing trial for offenses exclusively triable by the court of magistrate should be released.

It was therefore submitted that the High Powered Committee should consider releasing all convicts on parole, who have either served 1/3rd of their sentences or have completed imprisonment of 7 years or more in case of life imprisonment. The Committee also ought to consider releasing all women prisoners, both convicts and under-trial, regardless of the offense and the sentence they have been awarded.

It was submitted by the senior counsel and amicus curiae that despite the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the Arnesh Kumar case, the Madhya Pradesh police were not following the guidelines. The Court also then directed the Director-General of Police to issue directions to all police stations in the State to adhere to the above-said guidelines. If any arrest would be made without adherence to the guidelines, the accused would be entitled to directly apply to the court of the competent authority for bail.

The Court further held that the Director of the State Judicial Academy should organize virtual programs in batches to sensitize police officers and judicial magistrates to follow the guidelines laid down by the Apex Court in the aforementioned case.

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