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Apex Court stays Allahabad High Court order which held apprehension of death due to COVID-19 is ground for anticipatory bail

The Supreme Court has stayed wide orders given by the Allahabad High Court, which had issued anticipatory bail to an offender in a cheating case, stating that apprehension of death as a result of COVID-19 infection may be a legitimate basis for providing the exemption.

Since May 10, the Supreme Court has been hearing a petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh government challenging the High Court’s order. The Allahabad High Court’s order should not be seen as a guideline when issuing anticipatory bail, according to the court, and courts should weigh the merits of each case. The decision was made by a vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai.

The bench assigned senior advocate V Giri as an amicus curiae in the case to assist it in determining whether COVID can be used as a justification for anticipatory bail. 

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea from the Uttar Pradesh government, which was questioning a High Court order issued on May 10. According to the Uttar Pradesh government’s law officer Tushar Mehta, the accused (Prateek Jain), who was provided anticipatory bail until January 2022, has 130 cases pending against him. Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 506, and 406 of the Indian Penal Code were used to prosecute Prateek Jain. 

The High Court in its ruling stated that further the risk of an accused being afflicted with the novel coronavirus before and after his detention, as well as the possibility of him spreading the virus when in touch with police, court, and jail officials, or vice versa, can be considered a legitimate basis for granting anticipatory bail to an accused.

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