The NDA government has initiated work on a system that aims to reduce the number of undertrials in the jails of the country and prevent keeping prisoners behind bars beyond the quantum of their sentence, Law and Justice Minister Ravishankar Prasad said on Sunday at the 22nd convocation of National Law School of India University.
The government is working with National Informatics Centre to create a software and a database of prisoners, with special focus on undertrials, and a pilot system is being tried out at Tihar Jail, the law minister said.
“Over 66 per cent of prisoners are undertrials and there are several others who are overstaying their sentence. Their ratio is more than that of the actual convicts. It is not only a human rights issue but also a matter of great concern for the judiciary. Laws will be appropriately amended and the service of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will be used to uphold the criminal justice system,” Prasad said.
He stated that in the pilot system at Tihar Jail, details of prisoners can be obtained online with the click of a button. “The process is transparent and we see it as a sign of progress,” the law minister said.
The software computes the dates of arrival of a convict and raises red flags when it is time for his release. The government is deliberating on making the prisoner data available in the public domain, he said.
Speaking at the event, which was presided over by NLSIU Chancellor and Chief Justice of India Justice R M Lodha, Prasad added that under provisions of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, a databank of lawyers could be created for appointment of judges.
The constitutional amendment through the Bill, when endorsed by the states, would mark the beginning of a new participatory process in the selection of judges, he said. “We are now committed to developing the databank of the performance of young lawyers so that the best talent is considered for appointment,” he pointed out.
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