QUESTION DETAILS

MINISTRY OF : HOME AFFAIRS

RAJYA SABHA

Starred QUESTION NO 251 TO BE ANSWERED ON 2015-08-12
Undertrials languishing in jails

251. Smt. Vandana Chavan

Question

Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a) whether Government has taken note of the Supreme Court decision that poverty can”t be a ground for keeping in custody an accused who is unable to furnish the bail bond;

(b) what are the steps taken by Government in this regard;

(c) whether Government would consider immediate release of the undertrials languishing in Indian jails due to financial reasons;

(d) how many undertrials are currently in jail in different States due to inability to produce bail bonds; and (e) whether the National and State Legal Services Authorities play a role in dealing with this particular issue, if so, the details thereof?

Answer

MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS (SHRI HARIBHAI PARATHIBHAI CHAUDHARY)

(a) to (e): A Statement is laid on the Table of the House.

(a) to (d): The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 24.4.2015, in the matter of Suo Moto W.P. (Civil) No. 406 of 2013 titled Re: Inhuman Conditions prevailing in 1382 prisons in India, has issued directions to the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to issue directions to the State Legal Services Authorities to urgently take up cases of undertrial prisoners who are unable to furnish bail bonds and are still in custody for that reason. The State Legal Services Authorities have been asked to instruct the panel lawyers to urgently meet such prisoners, discuss the case with them and move appropriate applications before the appropriate court for release of such persons unless they are required in custody for some other purposes.

“Prisons” is a State subject as per entry 4 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. Therefore, the administration and management of prisons is primarily the responsibility of the State Governments/UTs. However, the following measures have been taken by the Government in respect of undertrial prisoners:

(i) An Advisory has been issued by the Government of India on 17.1.2013 to States/UTs regarding use of section 436A of the Cr.P.C to reduce overcrowding in prisons. The same can also be accessed on the website of Ministry of Home Affairs at the link: http://mha.nic.in/sites/upload_files/mha/files/AdvSec436APrisons-060213_0.pdf

(ii) The Union Home Minister has written to the Chief Ministers/LGs of States/UT, on 3.9.2014 regarding use of section 436A of Cr. P.C. to reduce overcrowding in jails.

(iii) The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 5.9.2014 in the Writ Petition No. 310/2005 – Bhim Singh Vs Union of India & Others relating to the undertrial prisoners, has directed for effective implementation of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The DG (Prisons)/IG (Prisons) of all States/UTs have been requested on 22.9.2014 to take necessary action to comply with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter.

(iv) An Advisory dated 27.9.2014 has been issued by the Government of India to the States/UTs on reckoning half-life of time spent in judicial custody of Undertrial prisoners under Section 436A of Cr. P. C.The same can also be accessed on the website of Ministry of Home Affairs at the link: http://mha.nic.in/sites/upload_files/mha/files/GuidelinesForRreckoningHalfLife_161014.pdf

Data of undertrial prisoners currently in jail in different States due to inability to produce bail bonds are not maintained centrally.

(e) In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority. Similarly, in every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district. NALSA has also called upon State Legal Services Authorities to set up legal aid cells in jails so that the prisoners lodged therein are provided prompt and efficient legal aid to which they are entitled by virtue of section 12 of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.