Press Trust of India
NEW DELHI, 7 JULY: The Supreme Court has termed as “serious” the plight of tribal undertrials, lodged in various central jails in eight Maoist-affected states, but sought factual details for passing any judicial order.
“These are very serious matters. You (PIL petitioner) are only relying on the media report. The data can be collected. You complete facts. We cannot pass order on generalised data. If you want this court to entertain this petition, at least file certain facts so that we can act,” the Bench headed by Mr Justice R M Lodha said and asked the petitioner to file an additional affidavit giving factual details.
The Bench was hearing the PIL filed by Mr Jinendra Jain on behalf of society ‘Fight For Human Rights’ alleging that thousands of tribals were languishing in various central jails without any trial in Maoist-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Advocate Mr K R Chitra, appearing for the society, argued that the Centre and the eight states be asked to respond as the issue was related to the fundamental rights of the underprivileged section of the society.
“The adivasi undertrials are languishing in various jails for very long period without any trial and as a result, unrest and hostilities are prevailing in tribal areas of the country,” the advocate argued.
“Often, the undertrials are not informed about the grounds of their arrests,” the PIL said.
They are not even duly represented by lawyers of their choice as there are very few interpretors available in courts who can speak Adivasi languages like ‘Gondi’ and ‘Halbi’, it said. The PIL further said: “Adivasi undertrials speak only Adivasi language and there are no sufficient number of interpreters/translators available in courts, hence they are deprived of their fundamental rights of fair trials as they are unable to explain the real facts and circumstances to the judicial officers.”
The undertrials, arrested mostly in Maoist-violence related cases, are lodged in distant central jails and hence, they are deprived of “their rights to meet their relatives”, it said.
The PIL also sought a direction to the Centre and the states to “initiate urgent concrete action and also appoint a special commission of eminent jurists” to oversee dedicated fast track courts to hear their cases.