The Delhi High Court today took suo motu cognisance of the plight of 614 women inmates of Tihar jail who have served half their maximum jail term without completion of trial.
"The issue is of great concern. The Standing Counsel (Criminal) shall remain present in the court tomorrow," a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice G P Mittal said.
The court took up the matter following a letter by Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, who "earnestly" requested the Chief Justice of the High Court "to take up the matter appropriately so that the cry for justice is answered in accordance with law with the promptitude with which a mother responds to the cry of her child".
Justice Joseph wrote the letter after he received an appeal from the 614 women prisoners, emphasising their "suffering and grievances" including kids aged six years or above being kept away from their mothers, overcrowding of jail no.6, delay in disposal of their cases and their non-release on bail if they are unable to fulfil conditions of bail bonds.
The women undertrials have sought that they be released on personal bonds.
They have also alleged lack of sympathy from the courts and doctors in the jail.
The inmates have also contended that legal aid available in the jail for female prisoners was not serving its true purpose.
The Supreme Court had in September 2014 mobilised judicial officers across the country to visit every prison in their district over the next two months to identify and release undertrial prisoners who had already spent half the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed under the law for offence they had committed.
The court had, however, clarified that the relief does not apply to undertrial prisoners whose offence attracts death penalty.
Reports by judicial officers were to submitted to the respective High Courts of all states before being forwarded to the Supreme Court.