Supreme Court SC to hear plea on release of undertials having...

SC to hear plea on release of undertials having completed half of their sentence in view of COVID-19

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New Delhi, May 13 (ILNS) The Supreme Court will today hear a petition related to the release of inmates, who have undergone half of their maximum sentence, taking in consideration the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country.

The petition, filed by the India Undertrial Prisoner Support Forum, sought issuance of implementation of the directions and orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court for implementation of Section 436A CrPC. It also implored long-term solution for decongestion of jails in Delhi, which were exceeding their occupancy limit to twice the capacity.

The petitioner submitted that this plea concerned those undertrials who were facing trial under various offences and have already been under custody for more than half the maximum sentence in lesser offences. These undertrials, being in judicial custody and lacking sufficient means, were unable to raise this issue before the apex court.

Due to COVID-19 situation, the UnderTrial Review Committee (UTRC) has not been able to meet its duties for the release of undertrial prisoners, who have completed half of maximum sentence in minimum offence, said the plea.

The petition further said the actual number of undertrial prisoners, who fall under the ambit of Section 436A CrPC, is much higher and such information is not correctly provided to the review committee by the prison authorities, as they are still not adhering to the SOP of National Legal Services Authority, which were adopted by the Supreme Court on February 4, 2018 for UTRC.

The SOP ensured detailed undertrial information in custody warrants, it noted, adding that the undertrial prisoners were not made aware of the reasons of their rejection by the UTRC.

The petition sought intervention of the apex court by ordering for release of those prisoners, who have already undergone half of the maximum sentence in lessor offence, as it was very essential to the prisoners’ rights under Article 21 of the Constitution and their human dignity. ILNS/DS/RJ

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