Study moots early bail for undertrial women, no surety

A government-sponsored study has recommended an amendment to Section 436 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to provide for the grant of bail to undertrial women who have spent one-third of their maximum possible sentence in judicial custody.

A government-sponsored study has recommended an amendment to Section 436 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to provide for the grant of bail to undertrial women who have spent one-third of their maximum possible sentence in judicial custody.

The study, conducted under the supervision of the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry, has also recommended exempting undertrial women from the mandatory production of surety in court for grant of bail.

“A maximum time-frame may be decided for the release of women prisoners after bail is granted but surety is not produced. This would ensure that poor or financially dependent women are not left to languish in prisons,” the study, titled 'Women in Prison' has suggested in its report.

Section 436 A, inserted in the CrPC in 2005 with the objective of ensuring that undertrials were not indeterminately detained in jail due to slow progress of their cases, provides for the grant of bail. It currently provides for the release of undertrials on bail on his/her personal bond with or without sureties on serving half of the maximum sentence for the offence the accused is charged with.

The report, excerpts of which was shared by the WCD ministry on Monday, has made as many as 134 recommendations for improving the lives of undertrial women in prison, looking into “a wide range of issues” from pregnancy and childbirth in prison, mental health, legal aid, reintegration in society to their caregiving responsibilities, among others.

It has also suggested changes in the National Model Prison Manual 2016 to bring them “in line with international standards and norms.”

Childcare

It has strongly recommended that undertrial women must be allowed to make arrangements for their children before they are sent to judicial custody. It has suggested that “a reasonable suspension of detention” may also be provided for this purpose.

“In case there are no family/friends where the child (above 6 years of age) can be left, he must be placed in a Child Care Institution,” it suggested.

To address the problems of loss of ties with the child, the report calls for “greater links” of the child with mother throughout her incarceration through extended visits and frequent meetings.

The report, to be shared by the WCD ministry with the Home Ministry, aims to build an understanding of the various entitlements of women in prison, various issues faced by them and possible methods for resolution of the same, the ministry said.

“This initiative should change the way prison administration perceives women inmates,” WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said, releasing the excerpts.

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Study moots early bail for undertrial women, no surety

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