Consider Modifying Prisoners’ Bail Conditions If Bonds Not Furnished Within Month: SC To Courts

New Delhi, Feb 2: Noting that a number of undertrial prisoners are in jail even after being granted bail, the Supreme Court has asked courts concerned to consider modifying the conditions imposed if the bonds were not furnished within a month.
Issuing a slew of directions, a bench of Justices S K Kaul and Abhay S Oka said one of the reasons that delays the release of an accused or a convict is the insistence upon a local surety and suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety.
“In cases where the undertrial or convict requests that he can furnish bail bonds or sureties once released, then in an appropriate case, the court may consider granting temporary bail for a specified period to the accused so that he can furnish bail bonds or sureties.
“If the bail bonds are not furnished within one month from the date of grant bail, the concerned court may suo motu take up the case and consider whether the conditions of bail require modifications or relaxations,” the bench said.
The top court also directed that a court granting bail to an undertrial prisoner or a convict would be required to e-mail a soft copy of the order to the prisoner through the jail superintendent on the same day or the next day.
“The jail superintendent would be required to enter the date of grant of bail in the e-prisons software (or any other software being used by the prison department).
“If the accused is not released within a period of seven days from the date of grant of bail, it would be the duty of the superintendent of jail to inform the secretary, DLSA, who may depute a paralegal volunteer or jail-visiting advocate to interact with the prisoner and assist the prisoner in all ways possible for his release,” the bench said.
The apex court also directed the National Informatics Centre to make attempts to create necessary fields in the e-prison software so that the date of grant of bail and the date of release are entered by the prison department and in case the prisoner is not released within seven days, then an automatic e-mail can be sent to the DLSA secretary.
“The secretary, DLSA, with a view to find out the economic condition of the accused, may take help of the probation officers or paralegal volunteers to prepare a report on the socio-economic conditions of the inmate, which may be placed before the concerned court with a request to relax the condition of bail or surety,” it said.
Earlier, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) had told the court that according to recent data, about 5,000 undertrial prisoners were in jails despite being granted bail and 1,417 of them were released.
In a report filed in the apex court, the NALSA had said it was in the process of creating a “master data” of all such undertrial prisoners (UTPs) who are unable to furnish sureties or bail bonds due to poverty, including the reasons for their non-release from jail.
The top court had, in its November 29, 2021 order, flagged the issue of the UTPs who continued to be in custody despite being granted bail on account of their inability to fulfil the conditions.
The court had asked the states to issue directions to the jail authorities to provide the details of such UTPs to the NALSA, which will process it for making necessary suggestions on how to deal with the issue and provide legal assistance, wherever necessary. (Agencies)