Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad directed prison officials Friday to publish,on the website and notice boards of prisons in the state,information of undertrials who have been languishing in jails for more than half the maximum prison term they are liable for.
Using his powers under Section 19 (8) of the RTI Act,the SCIC has asked prison officials to comply with the order by May 12 in fulfilment of the prison departments obligation under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Act.
The SCIC has also asked for an implementation report to be filed by the prisons department on that date. The SCICs order was passed on a second appeal filed under the RTI Act by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi on January 11,after he was refused the information on two previous occasions first by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and then the First Appellate Authority (FAA) without valid reasons.
Gandhi had filed the RTI application with the PIO on November 26,2012,and the first appeal with the FAA on December 12,2012.
Meeran Borwankar,Additional Director General (Prisons),Maharashtra,said the move will benefit undertrials.
I foresee no problem in the SCICs order as it is a step towards increasing transparency. However,I will have to check whether we have the infrastructure and wherewithal for such an exercise, Borwankar told The Indian Express.
Section 463A of CrPc says that the maximum period for which an undertrial prisoner can be detained without being released is not more than 50 per cent of the maximum imprisonment specified for the charge he is booked for. The law says they can be released on personal bond if they cannot furnish bail. Yet,our legal system does not follow this law and undertrials most of whom will not be convicted suffer in prison because they are poor. Despite the protection of law,there is no relief for most of them, said Gandhi.