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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Supreme Court judge launches nationwide campaign to expedite identification, review of prisoners

Many convicts, though due for release, have been languishing in jails for years due to lack of surety, bail bonds and other technical glitches

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 19.09.23, 05:22 AM
Supreme Court.

Supreme Court. File photo

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court and executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), on Monday launched a nationwide campaign to expedite the identification and review of prisoners who are eligible to be considered for release.

Many such prisoners, though due for release, have been languishing in jails for years due to lack of surety, bail bonds and other technical glitches.

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The campaign that started on Monday will be held across all the districts of India and it will continue till November 20, 2023. It will accelerate the existing functioning of the Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs), which are district-level bodies headed by the respective district and sessions judges with the district magistrates, superintendents of police, secretaries, district legal services authorities and officers-in-charge of prisons as its members.

The UTRCs were constituted in furtherance of the directions of the Supreme Court in the case of “Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons” in 2015. The UTRCs have, in the past five years, recommended the release of over two lakh prisoners across India.

The launch event of the campaign, held virtually, was attended by the executive chairpersons and member secretaries and other functionaries of all state legal services authorities, executive chairpersons and secretaries of the DLSAs, and members of the UTRCs.

Addressing the gathering, Justice Kaul emphasised that “the issues of undertrial prisoners languishing in prisons despite being eligible to be reviewed for release have continued to come up before the Supreme Court as well as the high courts”.

He reminded everyone: “Our responsibility as judges is to ensure that the law is followed in letter and spirit and that it does not discriminate between anyone on the basis of the quality of legal representation they can afford among other man-made qualifiers.”

In his address, Justice Kaul explained the intrinsic linkages between a robust legal aid system, access to justice and the attainment of sustainable development goals, an aspect that has been a focus of the G20 Summit 2023 and is one of the resolutions of the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration.

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