Centre to expedite release of undertrials

Centre to expedite release of undertrials

Priority to women, children and senior citizens

Addressing a crowded press conference here, Union Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily said “there are in excess of 300,000 undertrials in India,  70 per cent of the jail population. Only 30 per cent are people actually convicted and imprisoned.”

Most of these accused were in jails because of the delay caused by the justice delivery system. And fundamental rights of a person could not be curtailed by keeping him in jail for an indefinite period, he said.

“The challenge to reduce undertrial cases is one such programme. We will institute measures to ensure that the miscarriage of justice that has given rise to such a large population of undertrials doesn’t occur,” he said

 Asked about the government stand on impeaching chief justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice P D Dinakaran, Moily said: “Parliament is seized of the matter.  The Rajya Sabha has constituted a committee and the matter is before an inquiry committee.”

 He refused to air the government's view, saying: “Not at this stage. The enquiry has to take place. The procedures under the provision of Judges Inquiry Act has been followed.”
 He said that the government had not taken “a view” at this stage on setting up benches of Supreme Court at four regions of the country.

“The government is yet to take stock of the issue. However, the Law Commission has recommended setting up of four supreme courts in four regions and the apex court at the capital,” he said.

 On the release of the undertrials, he said priority would be given to women, children and senior citizens, after scrutinising their case records.

State governments and  high court chief justices had been consulted and asked to make a survey of the cases pending before them in their respective states, he said.

 Moily said the government had asked all state high courts to identify undertrials “who are not involved in heinous crimes and whose cases can be expedited.” But the cases of those detained under preventive detention as a threat to the national security would not be considered.

 “We want to dispose of as many as two-thirds of the under trial cases by July 31. It is challenging but achievable. The mission begins on January 26,” the minister said
 Moily said the Union cabinet “has in principle” agreed to operationalise and implement the national legal mission,  “a step towards guaranteeing access to justice for every citizen, including those in jails.”