The Supreme Court Monday sought responses from the Centre and states on a PIL to free petty undertrials crowding the jails on bail.
Citing National Crime Record Bureau data,the PIL,filed by advocate Vijay Aggarwal,said there were more than two lakh undertrials who constituted 64.7 per cent of total prison population. The Delhi High Court has already passed an order in favour of release of undertrials,who are charged with offences triable by a magistrate and punishable with a jail term of up to seven years. Since I cannot go to each and every HC,let this court pass orders for implementation of certain guidelines across the country, argued Aggarwal.
Asserting that the SC had issued guidelines on the issue in a previous verdict,he said one of the amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code laid down that persons should not be arrested at the first instance in trivial matters. It is an unnecessary burden on exchequer. For all offences punishable up to a jail term of seven years,there are several modes like plea bargaining,probation of offenders provisions etc,and these should be resorted to in order to decongest the prisons, Aggarwal said.
His petition has sought formulation of a policy under which release of prisoners serving seven years of imprisonment for the offences of cheating and forgery be considered. The persons who are in jail during the trial for such offences can be also released on bail if they are in jail for more than a year,it said.