1,660 still in Arthur Rd jail when they can get bail
MUMBAI: At least 1,660 undertrials are languishing in Arthur Road Prison when they should have been out on bail. A reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query revealed that of the 2,296 lodged at the prison, nearly 72% — or 1,660 – were booked for offences which were of bailable nature.
These undertrials have been booked for petty crimes such as ticketless travel and theft to forgery, kidnapping and culpable homicide.
According to a 2005 amendment to section 436 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), if a person arrested for a bailable offence is unable to meet the bail requirements (money and surety) and remains in custody for more than a week, it is mandatory for the courts to release him/her on a personal recognisance bond (personal guarantee of attending court).
Yet, undertrials continue to languish in jail due to pending court formalities.
If executed, the amendment will drastically help in clearing the crammed prison.
“There seems to be a certain kind of lethargy in administration of justice resulting in a lackadaisical attitude to the law and the rights of the accused,” says advocate Shyam Keswani.
Keswani adds: “Also the accused are often brought to court so late that it leaves the magistrate very little time to properly examine the numerous remands before him.”
Also, there were cases of delay in the bail order being delivered to the accused after it
had been granted. Advocate Sushan Kunjuraman said that there were cases where the accused had come to Mumbai in search of a job and lived alone in the city.
“He may be arrested for a petty crime. But since he lives alone, he has nobody to look after him,” said Kunjuraman. This, he said, was because as per the jail manuals, no undertrial can carry any money with him while he was in prison.
“There are cases where the accused cannot afford to hire an advocate. This cannot be held against them,” said advocate Kishor Joshi.
He added that by spending long periods in prison, first-time offenders who were often innocent were exposed to hardened criminals, thereby getting drafted into a life of crime.
The revelation was made by the public information officer or the Central Prison at Arthur Road in a reply to an RTI application filed by Sanjay Sharma of the National Anti-Corruption and Crime Preventive Council (NACCPC).