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‘Drop-a-pin’ on Google Maps, video call cops: Delhi HC tells convict released over Covid fears

Babu Lal was convicted under POCSO Act for sexually assaulting a minor and had been in jail since 24 February 2020.

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday directed a 73-year-old man convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to “drop-a-pin” on Google Maps every Friday to allow the police to verify his location.

The 10-year sentence of convict Babu Lal was temporarily suspended for three months after Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani took note of his medical condition and the “need to decongest prisons” over Covid-19 fears.

The court also directed Lal to make a video call every Friday between 11 am and 11:30 am to the investigating or station house officer (SHO) of the police station.

“The appellant will make a video-call every Friday between 11 am and 11:30 am to the Investigating Officer, and in case the Investigating Officer is no longer in service or is otherwise unavailable, then to the SHO of the Police Station where the case was registered and also ‘drop-a-pin’ on Google maps, so that the IO/SHO can verify the appellant’s presence and location,” the judge said.

Lal was directed to give a phone number to the jail superintendent and asked to ensure that this number is kept active and switched-on at all times.

Lal was convicted under the POCSO Act for sexually assaulting a minor and had been in jail since 24 February 2020, when his sentence was pronounced. He has also paid a fine of Rs 10,000 levied by the court. Lal had sought a temporary suspension of his sentence, citing old age and medical condition.

Also read: This is how prisons across India plan to release and track 34,000 inmates

Convict’s suffers from high blood sugar and BP

During the hearing on 13 April, the court demanded a report on Lal’s medical condition from the jail superintendent. This report showed Lal had high blood sugar levels and he also suffered from high blood pressure.

Lal’s lawyer, Amit Chauhan, had however said this report did not reflect the convict’s medical condition accurately. Lal’s previous medical complications, said Chauhan, make it “medically unsafe” for him to remain in prison due to Covid-19.

Advocate Asha Tiwari, appearing for the Delhi government, had opposed Lal’s plea for suspension of sentence. But the court noted that she did not counter the submission that Lal was in a medically vulnerable position in prison.

Allowing Lal’s application, Justice Bhambhani then observed: “Although the record shows that the applicant has only been in prison since 24.02.2020 which was the date the sentencing order was passed; and that he has been convicted of heinous offences under the POCSO Act, in the unprecedented circumstances of a public health emergency that prevail today and the consequent need to decongest prisons for the overall medical safety of all prisoners, this court is persuaded to grant to the appellant interim suspension of sentence for a period of three months.”

Lal’s sentence was consequently suspended, subject to payment of a period bond of Rs 50,000.

Also read: 45 PSA detainees & 159 other prisoners released from J&K jails due to Covid-19


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