26 Sep 2023 5:20 AM GMT
The Gujarat High Court has directed the State to compensate a man who was unjustly incarcerated for nearly three years despite a court order suspending his sentence and granting him bail back in September 2020. The court ordered the State to grant Rs. 1,00,000 as compensation to the applicant and urged District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) to identify similar cases of...
The Gujarat High Court has directed the State to compensate a man who was unjustly incarcerated for nearly three years despite a court order suspending his sentence and granting him bail back in September 2020.
The court ordered the State to grant Rs. 1,00,000 as compensation to the applicant and urged District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) to identify similar cases of delayed release.
Referring to the present case is ‘an eye opener’, Justices A. S. Supehia And M. R. Mengdey observed, “Considering the plight of the applicant, who has remained in jail despite the order of this Court due to the negligence on the part of the jail authorities, though he has already released yesterday, we are inclined to grant compensation for his illegal incarceration in the jail for almost three years.”
“The applicant is aged about 27 years and he has already undergone, as per the jail remarks, more than 5 years. Hence, in the interest of justice and in order to see that the applicant is appropriately compensated for the negligence of the jail authorities, due to which he was constrained to remain in jail, we are directing the State to grant him compensation of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees One lac). The same shall be paid within a period of 14 days. Registry is directed to communicate this order to the District Sessions Court, Mehsana also,” the bench directed
The convict had filed an application seeking regular bail through jail. Such an application was filed by him on 05.08.2023, which was forwarded to the Registry of this Court written by the Deputy Superintendent of Ahmedabad Central Jail.
When the matter was listed yesterday, Advocate Soni, representing the convict, drew the Court's attention to a prior order related to a Criminal Misc. Application for the suspension of the sentence in the same appeal. Advocate Soni noted that the Court had already granted the applicant regular bail by suspending his sentence under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The matter was ordered to be listed the next day and the Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) to determine why the applicant remained in jail despite the Coordinate Bench's order. The Court also directed the Registry to provide details regarding the communication of the order dated September 29, 2020, which granted the applicant regular bail.
As per the report of the Superintendent of Jail, after the order was passed by the Coordinate Bench releasing the applicant on regular bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs.20,000/- and two surety, the Registry sent an E-mail to the Sessions Court, Mehsana and Ahmedabad Central Jail however, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the said E-mail was not noticed by the jail authority and the order passed by this Court was not implemented.
It was further reported that no communication was received by advocate Mr.Soni, who was representing the applicant and it is only when the present application was listed, the jail authority came to know about the order passed by the Coordinate Bench. The Registry had also produced the E-mail with the attachment of the order passed by the Coordinate Bench.
The Court observed that the facts of the case revealed that due to the remissness on the part of the jail authorities, the applicant, though released by the Court on regular bail, passed in the Criminal Misc. Application in the captioned appeal, remained incarcerated in the jail.
The Court further observed that during his incarceration period, his jail remarks showed that he was released on temporary bail and furlough on a few occasions also, and the applicant, though was released and could have enjoyed his freedom, was forced to remain in jail only because no attention was paid by the jail authorities to contact the Registry or Sessions Court with regard to the order passed by this Court. Thus, there is a serious lapse on the part of the jail authorities.
On the day of the hearing, it was informed to the Court that after completing necessary formalities, the applicant was released the day before.
While referring to some of the directions issued by the Apex Court with regard to the undertrials prisoners and convicts, who are incarcerated in jail and granted bail on 31.03.2023 in SLP (Criminal) No.4 of 2021 and SLP (Criminal) No.529 of 2021 in the case of Re Policy Strategy for Grant of Bail Vs. State, the Court observed that the Apex Court is still examining the matter however, the aforesaid directions are issued only for welfare of the prisoners/convicts who have obtained bail but are not released.
Taking note of the present case, the Court observed that the Court's Registry had informed the jail authorities about the order for the applicant's release on regular bail.
The Court emphasized that the issue was not the receipt of the email by the jail authorities but the inability to open the attachment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Court noted that no efforts had been made to ensure the implementation of the Division Bench's order for the convict's release, even though the order was issued on September 29, 2020, and the convict was only released on September 21, 2023.
The Court expressed disappointment in the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) for failing to bring the order to the attention of the jail authorities.
“Looking to the seriousness of the issue, we deem it proper to direct all the DLSAs to undertake necessary exercise and collect the data of the under trial prisoners/ convicts, in whose favour the orders are passed releasing them on bail but are not released. The DLSA shall collect the reasons for their not having been released either for want of surety or non-execution of the jail bonds or for any other reason,” the Court directed
The Court scheduled the matter to be heard again on October 18, 2023, to ensure compliance with these directions, including the potential payment of compensation to the applicant.
Appearance: Through Jail For The Petitioner(S) No. 1 Mr Ronak Raval, App For The Respondent(S) No. 1
LL Citation: 2023 Livelaw (Guj) 161
Case Title: Chandanji @ Gato Chhanaji Thakor Versus State Of Gujarat
Case No: Criminal Misc.Application (For Regular Bail) No. 2 Of 2023
Click Here To Read/Download Order