Expressing ‘anger and pain’ over a woman having been made to languish in jail for close to two decades despite grant of bail,the Allahabad High Court today ordered her immediate release.
The high court also sought details of all such prisoners across Uttar Pradesh who may have remained incarcerated despite being enlarged by a court.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Vinod Prasad and Justice Anjani Kumar Mishra passed the order on an appeal of one Vijai Kumari who had been awarded life sentence in a murder case by an Aligarh court and who continued to be in jail despite the high court having granted her bail in 1994.
“This is a very worrying case…..We express our remorseful dismay on the inaction of the state government as well as the concerned district judges of the period”,the court remarked in the presence of the petitioner’s son who was born while she was in jail and who had “no answer except to shed his tears” when asked about his efforts to secure the release of his mother.
“We are bewildered as to how a lady was allowed to remain incarcerated in jail for 19 years….only because she was unable to furnish surety bonds. A very serious question of administrative concern pops up as to what the district judges and the district magistrates during the concerned period were doing while conducting the annual inspection of jail which,in the circumstances,appears to us to be a hollow administrative exercise only”,the high court said.
The bench said “we find their attitude to be careless and callous”.
The court directed that the petitioner be released forthwith “on her executing a personal bond of Rs 5,000 only” and that the order be communicated by fax to the Superintendent of Nari Niketan,where she was lodged,who shall “release the appellant from jail today itself”.
The court also appointed Additional Advocate General Vidhu Bhushan Singh as amicus curiae with the direction that he provide information as to “how many such convicts are incarcerated in jails of UP” despite grant of bail,the crimes for which they were convicted,the period of their incarceration and “whether or not they are in a fit physical condition and health”.
“Since we have passed this order which,in part,is in the nature of Public Interest Litigation,we would like the office to place this order before the bench dealing with PILs,without treating the appeal to be tied to this bench.
“The said bench may also consider,inter alia,the question of adequate compensation to be awarded to appellant Vijai Kumari”,the court added.