AN UNDERTRIAL has languished at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail for 10 days after being being granted bail as he has been unable to pay his bail amount in the new legal tender. It was only on Tuesday that his lawyer arranged currency notes and said she expects him to be released in the net few days.
A special Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act court had allowed cash bail of Rs 15,000 on November 8 to the Odisha-based accused, Akash Chanchad, who has been lodged in the Mumbai prison since 2014.
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As he has no relatives in the city, fellow inmates pitched in with financial help to obtain his release. His lawyers, however, said that when they went to the cash counter of the sessions department to complete the bail formalities on November 9, the day after the demonetisation announcement, they were not allowed to make the payment in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. “The money for his bail was arranged through a foreign national who does not have a bank account to exchange it,” said advocate Munira Palanpurwala, who is representing the accused.
On Tuesday, Palanpurwala managed to collect Rs 15,000 in various notes including Rs 10s from acquaintances and through her own bank account\. She said the bail process has begun and Chanchad is likely to be released in the next few days.
Officials at the sessions department said they had initially received requests from people to accept the old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 but had refused since no such direction was issued by the state government. At the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court, a staffer said a circular was issued stating that the illegal currency will not be accepted. “The application for cash bail was rejected for two of my clients in the past week. Though no ground was mentioned in the order, we were told later that it was to avoid arguments over currency with the cash department,” a lawyer who did not wish to be named said.
At the special NDPS court in Thane, advocate Rajendra Pitkar sought bail for a woman undertrial who had developed gangrene in her foot and required amputation. “The bail order had been passed a month ago and since surety could not be arranged, I had last week applied for cash bail. Due to the demonetisation, I changed the application while it was still pending stating that it would be difficult to arrange Rs 50,000 in new notes and hence the accused should be released on a personal recognisace bond. The court allowed the plea,” Pitkar said. In other courts including those that impose penalties on hawkers and in drunken driving cases, it is learnt that some judges have deferred the dates to make the payment due to the cash crunch.