Under-trial prisoners must be provided with their release related information

Central Information
Commission (CIC): While reiterating that it is the constitutional
responsibility and statutory obligation of the Governments to review each case
of under-trial prisoner and take appropriate action including release of the
prisoner and inform the prisoners concerned and the concerned authorities, CIC
noted that the duty of the Governments also extends to inform the authorities,
which will facilitate the release, or enable prisoner or any other person to
demand release based on information made available. The Commission was hearing
an appeal filed by an RTI activist who sought information regarding steps taken
by the Home Department towards the implementation of the Central Directive No.
V13013/70/2012IS (VI) dated 17.01.2013 issued by Government of India Ministry
of Home Affairs to the Home Secretaries to all States. The Home Ministry, vide
the said directive requested the State Governments and Union Territories
to adopt various measures to reduce overcrowding of prisons. The authorities
were also directed to constitute an Under-trial Review Committee (URC) to
decide on release of under-trial inmates. As the appellant was not satisfied by
the response provided by the Central Jails of Tihar and District Jail of
Rohini, she approached the Commission. During the proceedings, Commission
referred to the amended provision of S. 436-A, CrPC and observed that under-trial
prisoners can be detained only for one-half of the maximum period of
imprisonment prescribed for the alleged crime for which they have been charged.
This does not prevail upon offences for which the punishment of death has been
specified as one of the punishments. The Commission also referred to several
decisions of Supreme Court and CIC and noted that it is necessary and
appropriate for the Under-Trial Review Committee to issue necessary
instructions to provide the release related information to the concerned from
time to time for effective implementation of Section 436A and directions of the
Supreme Court. The Commission further observed that even a single day delay in
release of under-trial prisoners, who are entitled to such release as per
Section 436-A, will amount to serious violation of their right to life under
Article 21 of Constitution. For this violation no amount of compensation would
be sufficient. Hence, there is a strong need to prevent breach of Article 21 by
implementing Section 436-A. Accordingly, the Commission directed the
authorities of Tihar Jail and Rohini Jail, to provide a) latest status on the
implementation of the Central directive dated 17.01.2013, and b) proposed list
of prisoners to be released and other possible consequences like review
committee meetings, etc within 20 days from the date of receipt of this order
to the appellant, which shall also be disclosed under Section 4(1)(b) of RTI
Act in their official website. The Commission also directed the Home Department
to issue directives to all Jail authorities to prepare the list of under-trial
prisoners supposed to be released from time to time at least for every quarter,
informing the fact of their release. “Any such release of under-trial prisoner
cannot be delayed,” added the Commission. [Divya Iyer v. Tihar Jail, decided on 13-8-2015]
Source: Legal news India