Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in a letter to Chief Ministers has asked the states to only set up a “multi-disciplinary committee” to review all cases of accused languishing in jails without trial, weeks after BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wrote to PM Manmohan Singh protesting the MHA’s directive on wrongful arrests of minority youth in terror cases.
In January, Shinde had announced that he will be writing to the Chief Ministers to set up advisory review committees to assess the role of youths belonging to minority communities languishing in jails on terror charges without trial. “I am again writing to all Chief Ministers, saying we will appoint a screening or advisory committee like in the case of POTA. These will be state-level committees,” he had said.
After this announcement, Gujarat CM Modi had written to Singh in February, calling Shinde’s remarks as “brazen attempt to woo the minority community” and that the directive to states marked a “new low” for the country.
The Prime Minister’s office (PMO) had forwarded Modi’s letter to the Home Ministry where the Gujarat CM had flayed the Home Minister’s suggestion of setting up review or screening committees to assess the role of only minority youths languishing in jails on terror charges without trial.
Shinde in his latest letter to Chief Ministers asked them to set up “state level multi-disciplinary committee to take stock of all the cases where undertrials are languishing in jails without trial”. The letter, however, do not bracket only cases of minority youths.
The minister is also said to have taken into consideration the letter purportedly written by 2008 Malegaon blast accused Lt. Col Prasad Purohit, where he demanded that the government should not discriminate on religion.
In his two-page letter, Shinde has suggested the state governments to include members of the civil society besides members from state judiciary, police and jail authorities in the committee. The letter further said that the “suggestions of the committee can be recommendatory in nature”, and will not be any manner a binding on the State governments since law and order is a state subject.
The letter further said if a state government finds merit in the recommendation of the committee, it can go for a redressal in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. A senior home ministry official while explaining the scope of the letter said, “There are many cases where youths are languishing in jails including under terrorism charges. The state level committee can examine the cases where a person is behind bars for a period which is more than prescribed for the offence.”
The Centre is also learnt to have suggested that after the report of the panel, the such undertrials can then be released on bail.
Sushil Kumar Shinde, Narendra Modi, wrongful terror arrests, Prime ministerial candidate,