A Special Task Force (STF) has been constituted by the Bombay High Court to ensure that undertrial prisoners do not languish in jail.
The STF, comprising of a high court judge, will monitor the number of undertrial prisoners with the help of district judges. Such STFs will be constituted in Nagpur, Aurangabad, Goa and union territory of Diu, Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli.
Justice Ranjana Desai who is also a part of the STF in Mumbai said: “We will be monitoring on a regular basis that undertrial prisoners are not kept inside for a term longer than their possible conviction period.”
As per the records produced by the registrar (judicial) which Justice Desai read in court, 3,304 undertrial prisoners were released in Maharashtra and 18 in Goa on February 28.
“These prisoners were released as part of a special drive,” said Justice Desai.
There are 10,691 undertrial prisoners still remaining in Maharashtra and 115 and 73 under trial prisoners in Goa and other union territories respectively. “The district judges have been asked to decide on these prisoners expeditiously,” said Justice Desai.
Additional public prosecutor, Poornima Kantharia, informed the court that as per earlier court directions, a circular was sent by the registrar general to all the sessions and magistrate courts asking them to dispose off cases faster.
Besides, the judges and magistrates have been asked to release prisoners on cash bail in case they are unable to furnish surety. This is to be done where prisoner has been inside for substantial amount of time for a minor offence.
Justice Desai expressed that a need for regular monitoring mechanism was felt as such cases were frequent. Narrating an incident when Justice Desai was additional public prosecutor, she said that a study was done then too and some prisoners were released on bail. “But we come back to square one. We don’t want any such petition in future so cases need to be monitored regularly,” she said.
A division bench will hear the matter next week.