Law min for speedy bail to women under-trial prisoners

 Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

A woman who has spent one-fourth of the period of the maximum sentence for the offense she is charged with as undertrial prisoner should be released immediately, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad suggested on Saturday.

The minister was speaking before a gathering of judges and lawyers at the inauguration of 17th all India meet of the State Legal Services Authorities here.

"I have certain suggestions to give on this whole bail provisions for undertrials," Prasad said, referring to section 436-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Under 436-A, if an undertrial has been in prison for half the period of the maximum sentence for the offence, he or she must be released on bond. It also provides for review committees headed by district judges to examine such cases where undertrials are languishing in jail.

"The review committee needs to work more effectively. There is need to further reinforce the implementation of this provision," Prasad said, adding that in 50 per cent of cases, the accused spends entire period of sentence for the offence as undertrial prisoner.

"I would recommend that if a woman prisoner has spent 25 per cent of her sentence period as a trial prisoner, she should be immediately released," he added.

He also expressed concern about the number of pending criminal appeals, seeking fast-track hearing of cases which are pending for ten years or more.

Hailing the country's legal system, the law minister said Indian courts, led by the Supreme Court, reinforced the constitutional values, which played a great role in making India what it is today.

The world looks upto India and follows some of the initiatives the country has taken, Prasad added.

"Last year I had gone to the Bahamas for Commonwealth conference. I talked about Digital India programmes...and all the African countries' law ministers came to me to know about it," he said.

The NDA government has repealed 1,500 redundant laws, and proposes to repeal 500 more, he informed.

"The arbitration law has been changed, we are going to promote institutional arbitration in a very big way. India needs to become global hub of arbitration. We are also going to set up big arbitration school in Delhi," he said. 

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