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Free all undertrials who have served over half of their sentence, orders Supreme Court

Sep 05, 2014 12:11 PM IST India India
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ordered the release of all undertrials who have served over half of the maximum punishment for the crime for which they have been charged with. The court also asked district judges to visit jails once in a week for two months in their respective districts and identify such undertrials.

The court has directed all judicial officers to start visiting jails from October 1 and file a report after two months on prisoners released by them. The apex court also expressed concern over lack of budgetary support to judiciary and asked the Centre to grant more funds to create infrastructure.

It has directed the Centre to place before it a road map for fast-tracking criminal justice delivery system. The observations came while the court was hearing a PIL on Kashmiri undertrials languishing in jails.

Earlier on August 29, the court had termed the issue of undertrials languishing in jails as 'serious' and had asked the Centre to convene a meeting of home secretaries of all the states to find a solution to the problem. "This is a very serious matter. There are over 31,000 Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Scheduled Caste (SC) undertrial prisoners. This is the obligation of states and every state has to take care of undertrial prisoners," a bench comprising Chief Justice RM Lodha and justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman had said.

The bench asked the Centre not to remain a "mute spectator" and rather act as a nodal agency. "You (Centre) act as a nodal agency. Talk to the states. You cannot remain as a mute spectator," it had said. The bench, which had made all state government as parties, was hearing the PIL filed by Jinendra Jain on behalf of society 'Fight For Human Rights' alleging that thousands of tribals were languishing in various central jails without any trial in Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

(With additional information from PTI)

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