The government on Monday announced a new scheme for releasing two-thirds of the three lakh undertrials lodged in jails across the country, during the next six months.
In a bid to decongest jails, the Union law ministry has requested all the high courts to identify and try to dispose off cases of undertrials languishing in prisons “for several years”, beginning from Tuesday.
“The scheme, that will be in place till July 31, is being implemented in consonance with the various high courts of the country. The government expects about 70 per cent of the over three lakh undertrials to be identified for either discharge or grant of bail and possible disposal, depending on the nature of offence they have been charged for,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily told reporters.
“Jharkhand High Court has identified 436 and Calcutta High Court has identified 37 undertrials who can be released immediately. Since Tuesday is a holiday, they can be freed on January 27,” Moily said.
The Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) has finalised a list of 40 under trials at Tihar Jail, who would be released on personal bonds on January 27.
Moily said the scheme was “provisional” and was only a “suggestion” to decongest prisons. “But we have received a good response from High Courts and state governments.”
A special task force of lawyers and state law officers will be created for the purpose, he said. “The government has plans to create more courts. It is a mission oriented programme. We will do whatever possible to achieve it,” Moily said.
Attorney General, G.E. Vahanvati said the new scheme has two components. “There are two aspects. One is administrative and the other is judicial. The identification of undertrials whose cases could be disposed of comes on the administrative side, and their speedy trials comes on the judicial side,” he said.
Asked whether the undertrials would include those in Jammu and Kashmir, Vahanvati said that people under “preventive detention” would not be covered under the scheme.