New Delhi: In a landmark judgement, which would come as a sigh of relief to many undertrials who are languishing in prisons for years with only a bleak hope of justice, the country’s apex court ordered the release of all undertrials who have served half their maximum term yesterday.
The bench headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha said that district judges will visit jails once in a week for two months in their respective districts and identify such undertrials from October 1.
India’s criminal procedure code already states that once the undertrial has served more than half of his maximum sentence, the detainee must be released by the court on his personal bond with or without sureties, however, the law is rarely implemented.
“Having given consideration to legislative policy in Section 436 A of the CrPC and that a large number of undertrial prisoners are languishing in jails, we are of the view that an order is required to be passed by us so that undertrial prisoners do not continue to be detained in prisons beyond the maximum period as provided under Section 436 A of the CrPC,” the bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and R. F. Nariman, said.
“We want some edifice to be built on the foundation that has to be laid,” the bench added. Though this would not apply in cases where death sentence was provided as maximum sentence.
Speaking to Nasheman, prisoners rights activist and founder of Bangalore based organisation, Janasadbhawana, Mr.Faiz Akram Pasha, said that, “this is a great day for justice in the country, as there are thousands of prisoners slugging their life away for petty crimes in our prisons.”
Ordering the next date of hearing of the case Dec 8, the court said that on the completion of the two-month exercise, the registrar generals of the high courts will send the report on the exercise and undertrial prisoners released to the secretary general of the Supreme Court.