“Whether the guidelines released in 2021 offer the benefits to Under Trial Prisoners who are facing trial for offences under Section 364A, 394, 397 IPC, etc., especially where these charges do not figure in the Exclusion Clause,” Justice Subramonium Prasad asked while dealing with two bail requests.
The confusion emerged after the bench read two High Court rulings in the matter of Manish Kumar @ Manny V. The State; Ajit V. The State Of Nct Of Delhi while dealing with two instances in which the Court denied interim release to an accused on the basis that the offence under Section 394 IPC was not covered by the HPC guidelines published in 2020. The Court had granted benefit of the same guidelines in the other bail application for offences under sections 302, 392, 397, 411, 120B, and 34 of the IPC. The Delhi High Court has asked its High Powered Committee to clarify if the guidelines released this year can be applied to inmates on trial for offences not covered by the exclusion clause, particularly sec. 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 394 (Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), and 397 (Robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. The Court was asked if a person accused with an offence under Sections 392, 394, 395, 397, and 412 of the IPC is entitled to the benefit of the HPC guidelines or not. The Court stated,
“In order to avoid further conflicting orders, this Court deems it appropriate to place the matter before the High Powered Committee to issue BAIL APPLN. 2112/2021 & other Page 14 of 14 appropriate clarifications for the guidance of Benches dealing with application for grant of interim bail to Under Trials facing trial for offences under Section 364A, 394, 397 IPC etc.”
APP, on the other hand, claimed that the Committee intentionally omitted offences such as dacoity, robbery, and kidnapping for ransom, and that the Members of the HPC did not intend to extend the benefit to the persons accused of these offences, based on the minutes of meetings of the HPC dated 20th June, 2020 and 31st July, 2021.
Following the same, the Court observed,
“In the High Powered Committee meetings of 2020, clarification had to be sought from the High-Powered Committee, and while deciding the representations, the HPC clarified that offences like dacoity, robbery, kidnapping for ransom were not covered by the HPC guidelines 2020. However, even in 2021, the exclusion clause does not include the offences under Section 364A, 394 and 397 IPC and there is nothing to indicate that decisions taken by the High Powered Committee in the year 2021 are in continuation of the decisions taken by the High Powered Committee in the year 2020. If that be so, the issue which arises for consideration is that, do guidelines issued in 2021 extend the benefit to Under Trial Prisoners who are facing trial for offences under Section 364A, 394, 397 IPC etc. especially when these offences do not figure in the Exclusion Clause.”