The state government has been asked to consider paying compensation to prisoners who have been languishing in jail for long for petty offences because they could not furnish the bail amount.
A division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Amjad Sayed asked Public Prosecutor Pandurang Pol to consider compensation for such prisoners.
The compensation should be given either by the government or the person responsible for the delay in the procedure for securing bail, be it the police officials or the magistrates concerned, the court said.
“Somebody has to be responsible. If the police has taken them, the police must pay,” observed Justice Patel.
Quoting a Gujarat High Court’s judgment, Justice Patel observed that “if judges are responsible, they should pay from their pockets”.
The judges said unless those responsible are made to pay compensation, such malaise would never be checked.
In December 2008, the court had directed the jail authorities across the state to immediately produce offenders booked for petty “breach of peace” cases before magistrates, if they are languishing in jail for long.
In what is called chapter proceedings (referring to relevant chapter of the Criminal Procedure Code), a person is arrested and asked to give a bond if he or she is found guilty of breach of peace and other minor offences. It was brought to the notice of the high court that in many cases, such offenders remain in jails, due to inability to give a bond.
The court was hearing several pleas regarding prison conditions and prisoners’ rights.
Advocate Yug Chaudhary, who was appointed as amicus curie (friend of court) said of the 68 inmates booked for bailable offences in Yerawada jail near Pune, 42 are lodged under chapter proceedings. Under the CrPC, the chapter proceedings have to be terminated after a lapse of six months, and the person held has to be released.
Directing jail authorities to produce the prisoners before the magistrates concerned, the high court also asked the magistrates to decide these cases within seven days of the accused being produced.
In cases where a person cannot be released even after getting bail as he or she cannot furnish a bond, he or she should be produced before the magistrate immediately, the court said.