In a first of its kind move, the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently announced that it intends to accept bail pleas of prisoners if they will register themselves as COVID-19 warriors. The decision by the court comes in as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen in the state.

The High Court conveyed the bail condition by issuing a circular in which it noted that the government machinery is experiencing an extreme shortage of hands in the process of disaster management at the moment.

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According to the court's order, the new terms for granting of bail will only be applied to those accused under provisions of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Essential Commodities Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Madhya Pradesh Dakaiti Aur Vyapharan Prabhavit. Kshetra Adhiniyam Act and Examination Act.

An opportunity for offenders to make amends

The bail applicants, once released, will be assigned duties pertaining to COVID-19 relief work by the concerned District Magistrates (DMs). They have also been directed to adhere to all the necessary coronavirus related guidelines such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. "We expect that the appellants shall rise to the occasion to serve the society in this time of a crisis," the court said in its order.

Additionally, the High Court also stated that it will grant bail to those prisoners who do not appear to have any criminal antecedents and are less likely to flee from justice. Besides, delay in the conclusion of trials will also be a factor.

As is mentioned in the circular, the court will consider bail pleas of the inmates who are fit enough to carry out strenuous tasks related as instructed by health authorities. "All the appellants are young/middle-aged/able-bodied and are obliged as citizens of the nation to assist the government by discharging their fundamental duty enshrined under Article 51-A(d)," the order read.

Madhya Pradesh coronavirus update

The novel coronavirus situation in Madhya Pradesh is not very encouraging as it currently stands at the sixth position in the list of Indian states with maximum COVID-19 positive cases.

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As of now, it has more than 5,400 patients of the fatal disease and has reported over 250 deaths.