The Supreme Court on has issued guidelines to avoid delay in release of the undertrial prisoners who have been ordered to be released on bail.
A bench of Justice Sanjhay Kishan Kaul and Justice Abhay S Oka said, “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 (District Legal Services Authority) who may depute a para legal volunteer or jail visiting advocate to interact with the prisoner and assist the prisoner in all ways possible for his release.”
The apex court said that the secretary, DLSA, with a view to find out the economic condition of the accused, may take help of the probation officers or the para legal 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 (s) of bail/surety”.
The court said that the undertrials should not languish in jail even after getting bail just because they could not fulfil the conditions stipulated in the bail order.
The top court also said that the trial court can consider granting temporary bail till a prisoner, who is not financially sound, can furnish bond or sureties.
The top court said that the court which grants bail to an undertrial prisoner/convict would be required to send a soft copy of the bail order by e-mail 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,.
In cases where the undertrial or convict requests that he can furnish bail bond 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 bond or sureties, the court said.
The top court further underlined that if the bail bonds are not furnished within one month from the date of grant bail, the concerned court may suo moto take up the case and consider whether the conditions of bail require modification/ relaxation.
“One of the reasons which delays the release of the accused/ convict is the insistence upon local surety. It is suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety,” the court said.
“One of the reasons which delays the release of the accused/ convict is the insistence upon local surety. It is suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety,” the top court ordered.
The court guidelines came while dealing with the matter related to policy strategy for grant of bail. Advocate Gaurav Agrawale who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter has drawn the attention on various issues relating to prisoners who continue to be in custody despite having been granted the benefit of bail on account of their inability to fulfil the conditions.
One of the main reasons flagged was that the accused are in jail despite the grant of bail is that they may be an accused in multiple cases and is apparently not willing to furnish bail bonds until he is given bail in all the cases as undertrial custody will be counted in all the cases.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on March 28 2023.