The Delhi High Court today said it was the judicial duty of all trial court judges to undertake a review of the reasons of non-release of undertrial prisoners who have been unable to come out from jail, even after being granted of bail.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar further said it should be the responsibility of the trial court judge who issues an order of bail, to monitor its execution and enforcement.
It noted that the importance of the rights of prisoners under Article 21 of the Constitution, who have been accused even of serious crimes, cannot be overlooked under any circumstance. The Article says that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty.
"Inasmuch as we are concerned with inability of an undertrial prisoner to comply with the conditions of the bail, we see no reason as to why the trial courts do not suo motu examine the cases of such persons and to conduct an inquiry into the reasons thereof.
"The trial courts should be not only sensitive but extremely vigilant in cases where they are recording orders of bail to ascertain the compliance thereof. In case of inability of a prisoner to seek release despite an order of bail, in our view it is the judicial duty of all trial courts to undertake a review for the reasons thereof," the bench said.
The court's observation came during the hearing of a PIL by advocate Ajay Verma contending that a large number of undertrial prisoners were languishing in Tihar Jail here, despite bail orders having been passed in their favour.
Acting on it, the high court had issued a slew of directions to be followed by trial courts to ensure that such people get relief.
The high court had directed the trial courts to be more sensitive and vigilant about such cases and undertake a review of the reasons as to why an undertrial could not be released on bail.
The bench had said the trial court can then carry out a risk assessment of the undertrial and thereafter, modify the bail conditions, if required.
It had directed the judges of each district court who visit the Tihar Jail to ensure that a list of undertrials, who have been granted bail but not been released, is brought to the notice of the trial judge concerned.
The district judges were also directed to submit a report of the risk assessments carried out by the trial courts apart from verifying the list of 253 undertrials given by the Delhi government and review any other pending cases of prisoners who could not secure release despite grant of bail. The list of 253 undertrials were placed before the bench by Delhi Police standing counsel Rahul Mehra.
The jail authorities were also directed by the high court to promptly bring such cases to the attention of the trial courts and the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA).
The PIL blamed the lower courts for not exercising the option of personal bond for financially unstable prisoners and said it was misuse of discretionary powers by the judicial system. The court fixed the matter for further hearing on May 1.
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