The Centre is mulling over the prospect of adding a new Section -- 305-A -- to the CrPC to expedite the disposal of cases of undertrial prisoners by giving priority to them.
In fact, this is one of the measures under the government’s consideration to free up the space in jails, which are congested with undertrials languishing there,unable to pay surety for bail. Over 10 per cent of the undertrials lodged in the country’s jails were in the age group of over 50.The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in an advisory to the states that apart from those involved in heinous crimes, no person can be kept in jails as an undertrial for the period exceeding the maximum sentence for the crime.
“The lack of adequate legal aid and a general lack of awareness about the rights of arrestees are principal reasons for the continued detention of individuals accused of bailable offences, where bail is a matter of right and where an order of detention is supposed to be an aberration,” it said.
Besides, the Centre has asked the state governments to evolve a proper mechanism to ensure that no undertrial prisoner is unnecessarily detained and that simple bail procedure with periodic review of the cases must be ensured. For the speedy trial of cases, it has advised the states to constitute a committee in every district with the District Judge as chairman, and the District Collector and district police chief (SP) as its members. And the panel should meet once every three months to review the cases.
In addition to the fast-track courts, the Centre also advised the setting up of special courts and Lok Adalats in prisons to expedite the disposal of the undertrial cases.