In December last year, the state government informed the Bombay high court that installing tracking devices on prisoners out on bail, furlough or parole would be difficult, both legally and in practice.
Taking a serious note of 21,300 inmates across the state having jumped bail, parole or furlough, a division bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and RG Ketkar had suggested on November 15 last year that the government should consider getting tracking devices to prevent jail inmates from absconding. Khanwilkar had suggested that the tracking devices could be "set as a condition for releasing a convict on parole”.
Additional public prosecutor AS Gadkari told the court in the December hearing that he had consulted the advocate general on the matter and said that there would be both practical and legal difficulties. He said that the case will, however, be placed before the additional chief secretary through a high-power committee looking into the issue.
The judges had also suggested that those absconding could be tracked with the help of the Unique Identification (UID) that is being implemented across the country.
They had hoped that the UID system would help track down absconders as the police could also keep a check on their bank transactions.
Gadkari, however, said that the UID was being reviewed by a central parliamentary committee. He added that there were a large number of accused who hailed from other states lodged in Maharashtra's prisons, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In such cases, he said documents would have to be brought from their native places which would be time-consuming.
Besides, the state government claims that since a majority of absconders do not have a fixed address, it is hard to keep a track of them.
In the last five years in the state, 21,300 convicts and undertrials, including 4,378 involved in grave offences, have absconded, and 13,000 of them are from the city.