With an aim to curb cases of absconding undertrials and convicts out on furlough and parole, the Bombay High Court Thursday told the state government to set up a committee to look into this issue.
Amicus Curiae Advocate Shekhar Jagtap informed the court that according to government data, till July 2016 there are approximately 667 cases of convicts who are absconding. The number of undertrials is much more.
Taking this into account, a division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice Mridula Bhatkar directed the court to set up a committee. “The committee should comprise senior police officers, jail officials and members of the Bar. It will suggest measures to ensure convicts on parole and furlough do not abscond and return back,” said the HC.
The court added that the committee should first concentrate on cases pertaining to absconding convicts.
Acting Advocate General Rohit Deo while referring to suggestions forwarded by the prison authorities, said one of the suggestions included installing radio frequency transmitters on such prisoners. The prison authorities stated that the cost of implementing something like this would be above Rs 1 crore. Deo informed the court that the government could look into the technical feasibility of implementing such a proposal.
The other suggestions included creating a biometric criminal database for which the exercise is presently on and is expected to be completed by December. The other proposal is purchasing iris scanners. The committee has been asked to file its report by October 18 and the matter has been listed for hearing on October 20.
The court, which was hearing a suo motu petition seeking framing of guidelines to prevent such cases after the court took cognizance of a murder convict, Ramzan Sabit Hussain, jumping bail in 2003. The court also pointed to the need for public participation in such matters suggesting that the names and photos of such absconding convicts should be made public to help nab them.
The suo motu petition, which dates back to 2005, was taken up for directions after the Amicus Curiae file a praecipe inviting the court’s attention to the recent incident of the absconding accused in Mumbai lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha’s murder case. The court had then observed “We find the issues raised in this PIL are of great public importance.”
Accused Sajjad Mughal, convicted for murdering Pallavi Purkayastha, “went missing” while on parole, leading to the Maharashtra government taking a decision to change parole rules.
Another bench of the court had, meanwhile, also passed orders for formation of such a committee in 2014. The court has also sought the status of the committee.