On 17 May 2021, the Madhya Pradesh High Court directed the High-Powered Committee to accept the suggestions and provides recommendations on the decongestion of the jail premises to avoid infection amongst the jail staffs and inmates by the COVID-19 virus. The High Court further directed to State DGP to ensure that all police personnel strictly comply with the guidelines laid down in the Arnesh Kumar judgement. While dealing with the suo moto recognizance initiated in the context of a sudden outburst of the second wave of COVID-19 in the state, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Atul Sreedharan heard the matter.
It was brought to the notice of the court that the High Powered Committee had already provided recommendations on May 12 but still, the number of prisoners across the state was not reduced. The number of inmates lodged in jails on May 7 was 45,582 while the capacity of the jails was 28,675. It was submitted before the court that the sought object of decongesting the jails seems nearly impossible and thus the suggestion provided to the High Powered Committee that it should consider releasing convicts on parole, who have either served out one-third of the substantive sentence granted to them or whenever condemned to life imprisonment, who have finished imprisonment of seven years or more. The second suggestion was stated by the Senior Counsel and Amicus Curiae Mr Sankalp Kochar that the committee should consider releasing all UTPs on interim bail and who are facing trial for exclusively triable offences by the Court of Magistrate irrespective of the outer limit of the sentence. Thirdly, it was suggested that the committee should also consider releasing all women inmates, both convicts and under-trial, regardless of the offence for which they have been convicted and the sentence granted to them or the greatest sentence that might be granted to them upon punishment.
The High Court found that the police was not adhering to the Arnesh Kumar Guidelines laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
The court directed DGP to issue new directions to all the police stations to adhere to the Arnesh Kumar Guidelines. It also instructed all Judicial Magistrates that they should compulsorily examine whether or not stipulations contained in both Sections 41 and 41A of the Code have been followed stating written reasons. The Judicial Magistrates when satisfied that police have not complied with those provisions could decide to refuse to authorize detention and could direct immediate release. The High Court directed the Director of the State Judicial Academy to organise the online-sensitization program for Judicial Magistrates as well as Police Officers.
In the last, the High Court dealt with the juvenile cases and directed the Member Secretary of the M.P. State Legal Services Authority, Jabalpur to provide legal aid counsels for the children lodged in the Juvenile Centres to assist their release. The court also said that after considering the application, the same should be decided within 3 days from the date of filing as per the Supreme Court directions.