Government will constitute a taskforce to identify under tri

Administrative Head

Government will constitute a taskforce to identify under trial cases : Moily


Monday, January 25, 2010

There are in excess of 300,000 undertrials in India - 70 percent of the jail  population; only 30 percent are people actually convicted and  imprisoned

             Of the undertrials, roughly about 200,000    inmates, have been in jail for several  years,   essentially because of delays in the justice delivery system


National Legal Mission

                  The Cabinet has in principle approved its operationalisation and implementation

The Challenge to Reduce Undertrial Cases is one such program

Beginning 26th January propose to operationalise a mission with the Chief Justices of the various High Courts to reduce the number of undertrials languishing in Jail by two thirds  within six months – 31st July 2010

Institute permanent measures to ensure that the miscarriage of justice that has given rise to such a large population of undertrials  does not occur


The National Legal Mission that was born out of the National Consultation for Strengthening the Judiciary towards Reducing Pendency and Delays, is a step towards Guaranteeing access to Justice for every citizen

Challenge to Reduce Undertrial Cases and Congestion in Prisons


n       Genesis of the Problem

n       Prisoners are generally illiterate - totally unaware of their rights

n       Arrests are affected in a hurry without credible evidence

n       Undertrials are unaware of the charges they face nor able to access the documents relating to the case

n       Unaware of bail order or terms and conditions

n       Multipronged Solution

n       Legal Services Authorities need to gear up to assist by


      Preparing and distributing booklets in vernacular to inform the prisoner at the time of entry into jail about the rights of an accused

      Legal Aid Counsel to keep undertrial prisoner  (UTP) informed about progress of the case

      One set of documents of the case against each UTP to be kept on record to be made available when required

      Enabling contact between UTP and family of UTP – many UTPs are unable to secure release despite bail order


Challenge to Reduce Undertrial Cases and Congestion in Prisons

n       Changes to Law and Procedure


      The Chapter on plea bargaining need to be put to effective use – Delhi Legal Services Authority has taken steps in this regard which have started paying dividends

      Provision of probation must be utilised more

      Notifying the recent amendments to CrPC to permit relaxed conditions of bail, even release on personal bond in specified circumstance

      Create greater accountability on the part of the Police in the matters of arrest


n       Urge all the State Governments, the Bench and the Bar to work together together  to ensure that by July of 2010 we can achieve our target of reducing undertrial prisoners languishing in Jail


Challenge to Reduce Undertrial Cases – Way Forward

n       Reducing Undertrial Cases Programme


                                                    Chief Justices of High Court to appoint task force

                                                    Task Force may be headed by Executive Chairman of the Legal Services Authority or any Senior Judge selected by the Chief Justice of High Court

                                                    Task force to identify the jails implement programme and monitor progress on a weekly basis and submit report to concerned Chief Justice

                                                    Task force to be assisted by identified team of practicing lawyers  ( preferably those involved in legal aid) and senior law students

                                                    Jail visits to be undertaken

                                                    Task force can depute teams to various jails, each team may be headed by a sitting judge


n       Following information to be collected and acted upon to implement Mission:


      How may undertrials are there in the jail;

      What are the offences they are accused of or charged with;

      How many have applied for bail;

      How many cases where the bail has been refused, if so on what grounds;

      From those who have applied for bail, how many have been unable to fulfill the bail requirements; if so, why and for what reason;

      Apart from this, the most important data which is required to be obtained is with regard to the maximum punishment which is imposable in relation to the offences the undertrial is charged with; and finally;

      To identify the period of detention and the period undergone






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