An order by the chief information commissioner (CIC) of Maharashtra to improve the plight of undertrials languishing in prisons across the state could be rendered ineffective because of misinterpretation by the prisons department.
Based on a Right To Information (RTI) application by former CIC Shailesh Gandhi, CIC Ratnakar Gaikwad had, on April 12, asked the prisons department to furnish details of undertrails who had served more than 50% of the maximum sentence for the charges against them. As per section 436A of the CrPc, such an undertrial must be released on a personal bond.
However, the prisons department has put up incomplete details on their website.
Gandhi said he filed two separate applications: one asking for undertrials who had served more than three years in prisons and the second, a list of those who had served more than 50% of their maximum sentence.
“The prison department has only put up a list of those undertrails who have served three years. They have conveniently missed details of those who have served more than 50% of their term. This was more important since the law states that the latter can be granted bail on a personal bond,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi added that many poor undertrails are languishing in jails, as they do not have the money to pay for the bail bond.
“Although as per law, they should be let off on personal bonds if they have served 50% of their sentence, they are not aware of their rights. The prison department too does nothing to inform them of their rights,” said Gandhi. “Hence this order by the CIC can help many undertrials if prison authorities execute the order properly.”
When contacted, deputy inspector general (prisons) Swati Sathe said, “We have put up the list of prisoners who have served more than three years.” When asked about the second RTI application, she said she would have to check details.