“We are in times of use of technology. We are under contemplation of a scheme called FASTER : Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Record. It is meant to communicate all orders to concerned jail authorities without waiting.”
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Friday stated that the Supreme Court of India is in the process of coming up with the idea of evolving a system to issue electronically transmit bail orders directly to prisons so that the prison authorities don’t delay the release of prisoners who have been awaiting for a certified copy of the order.
“In this age of information and communication technology, we are still looking at the skies for the pigeons to communicate the orders”, the CJI said. “I am directing Secretary General of the Supreme Court to place report in 2 weeks time so we’ll try to implement the scheme in a month. The hearing was based on a suo moto case, ‘In Re: Delay in release of convicts after grant of bail’, which was registered on the initiative of the CJI to confront the problem that affects the liberty and dignity of prisoners.
The reason quoted behind the suo motu case seemed to be the delay by authorities in releasing 13 prisoners in Agra jail. The prisoners were imprisoned for upto 2 decades despite the Juvenile Justice Board declaring them ‘juveniles’ at the time of commission of their crimes. The Supreme Court granted them bail on July 8 yet the prison authorities took nearly 4 days to release the prisoners. Another incident was the inexplicable delay on the part of the Indore Central Jail authorities to release stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui following grant of bail by the Supreme Court. Again, Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal and Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha walked out of the Tihar Jail nearly two days after the Delhi High Court granted them bail.
“This court has passed orders releasing prisoners but they were not released saying they haven’t received copies of orders. This is too much”, the CJI said when the case was taken. “This is wrong”, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal replied. The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta also said that it was a wrong practice. But the SG added that here are instances where fake and fabricated orders are given. So jail authorities required authenticated copies, he said.
Following this, the CJI made the remarks regarding the plan of the Supreme Court to evolve an e-system for transmission of bail orders. The CJI stated that he wanted the state governments to install internet connectivity in all jails to make the transmission possible.
Exasperated at the increasing number of reports regarding delay in releasing prisoners even after bail has been granted, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the issue. The apex court has certain certain concrete steps to relieve congestion of the prisons amongst the pandemic. A bench led by the CJI ordered the police to limit arrests during the pandemic to prevent overcrowding of jails, and urged courts to not order detention in a mechanical manner.
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