Rs 20 crore for bail of poor under trials, no proposal for Fast Track Courts

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The Home Ministry has allocated Rs 20 crore to provide financial assistance to jail inmates who could ill afford the legal cost of securing a bail. The Union Home Ministry, in a letter to all the states has directed to open an account for receiving such funds, so that this money could be utilized for acquiring bail by prison inmates who could not afford the same and were for no reason other than this, languishing in state and union territory jails.

No proposal for Fast Track Courts for under trials

No separate suggestions/proposals have been received in Department of Justice in respect of setting up Fast Track Courts, for undertrial prisoners. However, the Central Government in the light of the Budget announcement during presentation of Budget 2023-24 has formulated the ‘Scheme for providing financial assistance to poor prisoners to pay fine and obtain remission’ through the State Governments with a budget provision of Rs 20 crore every year.

Home Ministry issues guidelines to states

In the notice of the Home Ministry, all the states and union territories were asked to form empowered committees in all the districts and monitoring committees at the state headquarters level. Also, a nodal officer has to be appointed at the state or union territory headquarters level, who could connect with the Ministry of Home Affairs or the Central Nodal Agency (CNA) National Crime Records Bureau to seek any clarification regarding the procedure or guidelines.

As per Prison Statistics India-2022 released by National Crime Records Bureau on December 1, 2023, there were 4,34,302 undertrial prisoners in the Country as on December 31, 2022.

Release of under trial prisoners on bail after serving half of jail term

The Government of India has added Section 436-A to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which provides for the release of an undertrial prisoner on bail after serving half of the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for an offense under any law. The concept of “Plea Bargaining” was also introduced by inserting “Chapter XXIA” in CrPC, which facilitates pre-trial negotiations between the defendant and the prosecution.

1.7% rise in under trial count between 2021 to 2022 in country

The number of under trial prisoners has increased from 4,27,165 in 2021 to 4,34,302 in 2022 (as on 31st December of each year), having increased by 1.7% during this period. Among the 4,34,302 under trial prisoners, the highest number of under trial prisoners was lodged in District Jails (52.1%, 2,26,386 under trials) followed by Central Jails (35.8%, 1,55,528 under trials) and Sub Jails (9.8%, 42,652 under trials) as on December 31, 2022.

Uttar Pradesh has maximum number of under trials in its 77 jails

Uttar Pradesh has reported the maximum number of under trials (21.7%, 94,131 under trials) in the country followed by Bihar (13.2%, 57,537 under trials) and Maharashtra (7.6%, 32,883 under trials) at the end of 2022. Among the 4,34,302 under trial prisoners, only 44 were civil inmates.

848 Fast Track Courts for speedy trial functional in country

The 14th Finance Commission had recommended the setting up of 1800 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) during 2015-2020 for speedy trial of specific cases of heinous nature, civil cases related to women, children, senior citizen, disabled persons, persons infected with terminal ailments etc. and property related cases pending for more than five years. The Commission had further urged State Governments to utilize enhanced fiscal space available through tax devolution (32% to 42%) for this purpose.

The Union Government had also urged the State Governments to allocate funds for setting up of FTCs, from the financial year 2015-16 onwards.

758 Fast Track Special Courts including 412 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts

Apart from Fast Track Courts, in pursuance to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, the Government of India finalized a scheme in August, 2019 for setting up Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) including exclusive POCSO Courts for expeditious trial and disposal of cases pertaining to rape and Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in a time-bound manner under Centrally Sponsored Scheme. As per data submitted by various High Courts, up to October, 2023, 758 FTSCs including 412 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts are functional in 30 State/UTs across the country which have disposed of more than 2,00,000 cases.

YEAR CONVICTS UNDERTRIALS DETENUES OTHERS TOTAL
2020 1,12,589 3,71,848 2590 484 4,28,511
2021 1,22,852 4,27,165 3470 574 5,54,034
2022 1,33,415 4,34,302 4324 1129 5,73,220

 

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