The Telegraph
Sunday , July 13 , 2014
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Legal rights camp for prisoners

Ranchi, July 12: An accused can seek relief and a speedy trial by admitting to his offence. Also, he can bargain for withdrawal of one or more charges levelled against him or seek change of a serious section into a lesser stringent one by pleading guilty.

However, most of accused or undertrials are not aware of “plea bargaining” or their right to a speedy trial.

Thus the District Legal Services Authority organised a legal awareness camp on the premises of Birsa Munda Central Jail today to educate prisoners about various provisions of the law available for undertrials and how to avail them to minimise their punishment and expedite the trial process.

Third semester students of the National University for Study and Research in Law gave tips to as many as 300 prisoners on provisions of anticipatory bail, regular bail and plea bargaining.

Plea bargaining can be defined as a pre-trial procedure whereby a bargain or deal is struck between the accused of an offence and the prosecution with the active participation of the trial judge.

Speaking to the prisoners, Kushal Kumar, one of the students, said plea bargaining might be of one or more varieties. “It can either be withdrawal of one or more charges against an accused or replacing a serious charge with a less serious one in return for a plea of guilty,” he explained.

Further, Kushal added, it would also help the accused seek a recommendation by the prosecutor before the trial judge to take a lenient view while passing a sentence against him.

“But most of undertrials are not aware of the advantages of plea bargaining, wherein they can finish their legal disputes without having to fight a long legal battle,” he added.

Another law university student Yash Kumar said the accused enjoyed the right to seek anticipatory bails and regular bails in criminal cases.

“Those who cannot afford to hire an advocate on their own can avail aid from the legal services authority both at the district and state levels,” Yash informed the prisoners.

DLSA member secretary and Ranchi District Court sub-judge Santosh Kumar said the awareness camp was organised in the wake of the forthcoming Jail Adalat and Mega Lok Adalat to be conducted on August 15. Magistrates up to the rank of a chief judicial magistrate will hold court on the premises of Birsa Munda jail on Independence Day and hear cases of prisoners.

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