JAMMU: On the directions of the Supreme Court of India, the Jammu and Kashmir government constituted a High Powered Committee to pass several directions for release of prisoners to decongest jails following the spread of Covid-19.
The Committee comprises Executive Chairman J&K SLSA, Justice Rajesh Bindal, as its Chairman with Principal Secretary, Home Department Shaleen Kabra and Director General of Police (Prisons) J&K, VK Singh, as its members.
On the basis of the nature of offence, the number of years and severity of offence, the panel proposed to release convicted prisoners and undertrials, an official handout said.
With regard to release of convicted prisoners, categories of convict shall be considered for release on special parole for eight weeks, extendable for another eight weeks if the lockdown by the government continues, subject to good conduct a) All those who have been convicted in one case only and have spent more than ten years (eight years in case of women) in jail, except those involved in militancy related cases, convicted for intermediate or large quantity recovery under NDPS Act or convicted under POCSO Act or convicted for offence for an offence against woman, or convicted for offence of acid attack or foreign nationals. All those who have been sentenced to imprisonment for three years with or without fine and the conviction has been upheld by the Appellate Court but revision against the judgment by Appellate Court is pending before the High Court. All those who have completed their sentence but are still in prison due to non-payment of fine. Matters pertaining to prisoners with advanced age, suffering from any illness may be examined on case to case basis.
Similarly, in case of under trial prisoners, it is proposed that category of under-trial prisoners may be considered for 60 days interim bail, extendable for another period in case the circumstances so demand, on furnishing surety and personal bond. It said that all under-trial prisoners with only one case pending against them, in which maximum prescribed sentence is 7 years or less with or without fine. Matters pertaining to prisoners with advanced age, suffering from any illness may be examined on case to case basis: UTPs falling under Section 436 ACrPC.; UTPs accused of compoundable offences; UTPs who were detained under sections 107, 108, 109 and 151 of CrPC. However, these detainees shall appear before the Magistrate concerned for appropriate orders when the lockdown is over; UTPs detained for non-payment of maintenance ordered under Section 488/125 CrPC. However, these detainees shall appear before the Court concerned for appropriate orders on the date so fixed.; UTPs detained under the Code of Civil Procedure for not obeying the decree/order of the court. However, these detainees shall appear before the Court concerned for appropriate orders on the date so fixed.
The procedure laid by the Committee for grant of interim bail shall be dealt with either by the visiting judges in the jails (DSJ/ADJ/CJM/JMIC) on the bail applications in the jail itself’; or alternatively by devising a mechanism of routing the bail applications through DLSA to the courts convened especially for this purpose.
“Use of technology may be preferred instead of manual intervention. Since the compliance of directions issued requires relaxation of J&K Suspension of Sentence Rules, 2020, as such, government is requested to treat the matter with utmost urgency, so that the directions issued by the Supreme Court as well as by the High Power Committee are implemented at the earliest,” it said.
All the Principal District and Sessions Judges, who are Chairman of district UTRCs of their respective districts are requested to comply with the directions of HPC with regard to under-trial prisoners and submit the report within one week for placing the same before the HPC on April 10.