Bhim Singh vs. Union of India and Ors.
[W.P. (Criminal) No. 310/2005]
Bench: Hon’ble Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Hon'ble Justice Kurian Joseph, Hon’ble Justice Rohintan Fali Nariman
The National Crime Records Bureau came out with the Prison Statistic of India,2012. The numbers of under-trial prisoners were more than that of the convicted prisoners. In 2005 Parliament amended the Code of Criminal Procedure and incorporated Section 436Awhere a person under investigation, trial or inquiry has undergone detention for a period of one-half of the maximum sentence of imprisonment can be released by court with or without sureties on his bond. The Court may after hearing the public prosecutor and for reasons recorded by it in writing, order the continued detention of such person for a period longer than one half of the said period of release him on bail instead of a personal bond with or without sureties and no person can be detained for more the term as provided for such offense mentioned under the law.
Through Bhim Singh Case there was the implementation of Section 436A which mandated the release of a large number of undertrials detained in prisons.
The court understood that there is a need for fast track process for all types of criminal cases to ensure criminal justice. The Court passed an interim order to implement Section 436 A through a various mechanism which will provide immediate relief to under trial prisoners. For foreign national prisoners, the concerned state government has to issue a 'No Objection certificate and facilitate their deposition to avoid overstay inside prisons.
Facts Of The Case
The Court in this ongoing Writ Petition has passed different orders from time to time. On 01.08.2014, the Court asked the Attorney General, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi about the fast-tracking plans of the government for the criminal justice system. The Attorney General after three months placed a roadmap before the Court for fast-tracking criminal cases.
The Attorney General informed the court that 50% of prisoners are under trial and many of them had passed maximum sentence for the offense they had been charged.
Looking into the prolonged detention of the under-trial prisoners, the court immediately implemented Section 436A and ensure that the detained person does not continue their time in prison beyond the maximum period which is provided under the section.
Issue Before The Court- To implement Section 436 A of the code and fast-tracking criminal justice in India so that undertrials do not spend beyond half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offense in prison.
Decision Of The Court
For the implementation of Section 436A, the court set the review mechanism and passed the following directions:-
1) Composition –The responsibility for reviewing the undertrials for implementing Section 436A was given in hands of the jurisdictional Magistrate, Judicial Magistrate, and Sessions Judge.
2) Frequency –One sitting shall be held by the concerned authority every week in prison for two months starting from 1st October 2014.
3) Function- The concerned judicial officer will check for the under-trial prisoners who have spent half of the maximum sentence in prison or the maximum period provided for the offense he had committed. The judicial officer will pass the order in prison for the release of such undertrials under Section 436A.
4) Monitoring Mechanism—The Registrar General of each High Court will receive the report of each sitting, and at the end of two months, the report will further be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court by the Registrar General. The Jail Superintendent has to provide all necessary facilities for holding the court setting.
Thus from the order of the court, it can be summarised that for the implementation of Section 436A of the Code, the Court has to set up the review mechanism. The directions of the court shall be binding to all states. For Foreign Nationals prisoners, the State Governments shall issue a 'No-Obligation’ certificate within four weeks to the Central Government who will further work for deportation.
Fatima Tuz Zahra
B.A.LLB, Semester- V