Travails of undertrials

Travails of undertrials
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Travails of undertrials

Highlights

The undertrial prisoners lagging in jails all over the country for years together need an immediate attention by the courts as well as the government

The undertrial prisoners lagging in jails all over the country for years together need an immediate attention by the courts as well as the government. The number of prisoners going to the jails has been increasing, overburdening the jail authorities to accommodate them. A few years back, the Supreme Court had an eye on this problem and ordered release of some of them against whom petty cases had been lodged. The inmates of jails are neither considered for necessities nor for a release even though rules permit them. They have become most neglected prisoners for the police as well as the government.

Now one more deficiency has come to light, which has been raised by CJI NV Ramana himself, that the prisoners who have been granted bail are not released immediately on the pretext of not receiving the hard copy of the bail orders. It is surprising to note that the jail authorities want a hard copy when so many documents under electronic media are accepted by courts as witnesses. This is expressed by the CJI also. To obviate this the CJI has started a new scheme called FASTER which enables the courts to transmit bail orders directly, securely and electronically to the authorities to make them confirm the bail and release the prisoners speedily.

In the recent days, the apex court also ordered authorities not to allow the prisoners to surrender after the interim bail is completed because of the congestion in the jails till further orders, which shows the sensitivity of the apex court towards the poor prisoners languishing in jails for years together. The court also ordered the police to limit the arrests during the pandemic to prevent overcrowding of jails and also urged magistrates not to order detention in a mechanical manner in cases involving punishment of less than or up to seven-year jail. The present CJI immediately after his takeover has been concentrating on main issues like reforms in legal system, changing or deleting the age-old and obsolete laws, insisting on deletion of Section 124A, focussing on to the lawyer community and filling up vacant posts in several courts, which are commendable. The overhaul of the present legal system is the need of the hour to speed up the long-pending lakhs of cases in courts.

TSN Rao, Bheemavaram

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