Hearing a petition on foreign prisoners still in Indian jails far beyond their maximum punishment, the Supreme Court today ordered that the prisoners in Indian jails can be released if they have served half their maximum term without trial. The Court also asked the Centre to submit a road map to fast track the criminal justice system.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India R.M.Lodha ordered that prisons across the country must comply with the law, and ordered local judges and magistrates to supervise the process.
Of around four lakh prisoners in the country, more than two thirds have spent years in jails due to never-ending trials and the increasing number of pending cases in the Indian courts, which function at a snail’s place.
Justice Lodha said, “Judicial officers shall identify prisoners who have completed half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for offences they are charged with. After completing the procedure they should pass appropriate orders in the jail itself for the release of under trial prisoners,”
Law officers have been asked to visit jails once a week for two months beginning October to identify prisoners who should be released
However, the Apex Court's order seems to have forestalled a statement by the central government, which was thinking ofwriting to all Chief Ministers on the release of prisoners who have spent half of the total time prescribed as punishment, without conviction. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had even met earlier this week to finalise the plan.
Despite the Apex Court’s order, the government has indicated that it is going to stick with its plan as the Union Law Minister said "The home minister will write to Chief Ministers and I will write to Chief Justices of High Courts,”
The Supreme Court has asked the Central Govt. to fasten up the process of justice in the country, more can be read here