NEW DELHI: CJI N V Ramana appears to be in a mission mode to facilitate release of convicts who are languishing in jail even after serving long sentences despite being entitled under Prison Rules for remission of sentences by the state governments.
A SC bench comprising the CJI and Justice Surya Kant expressed disappointment over the efforts of legal services authorities, both at the national and state level, to educate the inmates about their eligibility for remission and the procedure for making applications seeking remission of sentences after undergoing a requisite period of incarceration.
“Legal services authorities aren’t educating the inmates about their right to get remission. Procedurally it’s not difficult to put in a mechanism by which the inmates could be made aware of their right and the appropriate time to make such an application. This can be achieved by keeping records of the period of incarceration of each convict by jail authorities and the legal services authorities routinely accessing the data to advise eligible convicts to apply for remission,” the CJI-led bench said.
Appearing for Tihar jail in Delhi, additional solicitor general Jayant Sud informed the court that all jails in Delhi have installed e-kiosks which would display details of period of incarceration, the offence for which a person was convicted and the furloughs availed by a convict when he opens the ekiosk through biometric access mechanism.
But, the CJI appeared dissatisfied with the lackadaisical approach of authorities in facilitating a convict to exercise his right to remission. “Let me call a meeting of concerned authorities and examine this issue for evolving a mechanism to help entitled convicts in seeking remision,” Justice Ramana said.
There are 1,350 prisons in the country consisting of 617 Sub-Jails, 410 District Jails, 144 Central Jails, 86 Open Jails, 41 Special Jails, 31 Women Jails, 19 Borstal School and two others. The prisons have a capacity to lodge 4,03,739 prisoners, but there are actually 4,78,600 of them at the end of December 2019. Among them, 4,58,687 were male and 19,913 were female.
During the Covid pandemic, the SC had also ordered release of prisoners/undertrials facing imprisonment for petty offences to prevent spread of Covid in the overcrowded prisons. On July 16, a bench headed by CJI Ramana had asked all states to furnish within a week details of the norms employed for releasing prisoners accused of minor offences from overcrowded jails in accordance with the cour’s March 23, 2020 order.