A little-known amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code,passed in 2006,has brought freedom from jail to about 13,000 persons in UP in the last five months. Most of them were caught for small,bailable offences,like ticketless travel or petty theft. But since nobody would stand surety for them,they stayed behind bars.
The amendment,Section 436 (1) of CrPC,provides that if a person is granted bail,but is unable to furnish the bail bond within seven days,he should be declared indigent,and released from jail on his own personal bond. UPs IG,Prisons,Sulkhan Singh said as many as 12,780 inmates had been freed,giving them the benefit of this amendment.
The process was set in motion about six months ago when the Prison Department asked all 53 district jails to prepare lists of inmates whose cases fell under this category. The department,with the help of the district administration and public prosecutors,then moved applications before the courts for the release of the inmates. The process is still on.
The IG said the Prison Department directly submitted applications of such persons before court for release. We also make arrangements to provide legal aid to undertrials who cannot afford it, he said.
Another senior officer said such people kept languishing in prisons because nobody wants to stand surety for them. In some cases,advocates dont bother about such clients due to pending fees.
Senior advocate Rohit Kant said those eligible to be released under Section 436 (1) could,in fact,write to the magistrates of the courts where their cases were on.
The Prison Department has also freed another 275 inmates under another amendment to the CrPC,said Sulkhan Singh. Under this amendment,Section 436 (A) of the CrPC,undertrials other than those whose offences are punishable by death penalty or life imprisonment can be released on bail if they have been under detention for more than half the prescribed period of imprisonment. If opposed by the public prosecutor,the appeal for release may be cancelled.