The Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B.Lokur and Deepak Gupta, on Tuesday, expressed its shock and dismay over the revelation that a very large number of under trial prisoners are still languishing in prisons across the country, in complete violation of their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The bench was shown figures of such under trial prisoners, from the affidavit filed by NALSA, which “indicate a pretty shocking state of affairs”. “This situation simply cannot be accepted”, the bench told the States.
The bench asked Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit within 10 days explaining why the recommendations of the Member Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority and the Under Trial Review Committee have not been accepted. The States have been asked to explain why under trial prisoners, whose release was recommended by the Member Secretary, District Legal Services Authority as well as by the Under Trial Review Committee, are still in prisons.The U.T.R. Committee includes, among others, the District Judge, the Superintendent of Police as well as the District Magistrate.
The three States have been asked to file affidavits positively on or before October 25. The bench made it absolutely clear that extension of time will not be granted. “If necessary, we may be required to summon the Chief Secretary of these three States, as suggested by the learned AG if there is no satisfactory answer about why persons are not being released in spite of the recommendations made”, the bench observed.
The bench also asked these States to explain why in several instances, more persons have been released than what the Member Secretary, DLSA or by the U.T.R.Committee have recommended.
The bench also directed the counsel for the State Governments and the Union Territories, who were present in Court, to give necessary instructions to the concerned officials, to assist the Amicus Curiae in the case, Gaurav Agrawal, in finalising the proforma/questionnaire on various aspects regarding prison management. The AG promised the bench that the Ministry of Home Affairs will render all possible assistance in finalising the proforma within a period of 10 days.
The case will be listed for further hearing on October 31.