An undertrial prisoner in Uttarakhand jail has moved the Supreme Court against the decision of the State’s High-Power Committee (HPC) stating that it denies the benefit of parole to undertrials who are charged with offences punishable with more than 7 years’ imprisonment.
LiveLaw reported that this plea moved by one Anil Saini through Advocate Rishi Malhotra is violative of Article 21 as the HPC’s decision equates undertrials with convicts which is an “incorrect way to consider the cases of prisoners on parole as quite obvious an undertrial is presumed to be innocent till he is proven guilty by a trial court.”
His plea further states that despite the Supreme Court’s clear instructions to decongest prisons, the Uttarakhand HPC decided that those facing charges for offences that carry a sentence for more than 7 years will not be entitled for interim parole in view of the pandemic. It reads, “The fallacy is that no one knows what would be the fate of his trial and even if it is to be assumed that petitioner is convicted, then still it is uncertain about how many sentences the trial court may award.”
The plea also reportedly prays for a direction to be given to Uttarakhand’s HPC to pass immediate necessary orders for releasing him on parole as directed by the Supreme Court. According to a SabrangIndia report, the top court had ordered the re-release of all prisoners across the country who were released last year due to the pandemic and were subsequently asked to surrender in view of better conditions.
Additionally, it had directed the HPCs constituted by the State Governments/Union Territories to consider the release of prisoners by adopting the guidelines followed by them last year.
Anil Saini has been an undertrial and is in judicial custody since September 29, and has already undergone a few months of his actual sentence. As per a Bar & Bench report, his plea also avers that based on the Supreme Court directions, the HPC, Uttarakhand was constituted which adopted the parameters that except in few matters, in all other offences relating to convicts/undertrials, the benefit of the Supreme court orders may be given.
He also points out that the parameters adopted by the HPCs of Delhi and Haryana are different, under which there is no bar on undertrials to avail the benefit of the Supreme Court order.
Recently, following the Supreme Court order, Maharashtra’s HPC directed the re-release of all prisoners who were granted temporary bail last year. It also directed that all 12,571 pending interim bail applications will be decided before May 20. Further, 3,182 prisoners’ who had their interim bail pleas rejected are now eligible to re-apply for bail.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Powered Committee (HPC) has passed similar directions, on May 17, for releasing prisoners except those involved in militancy related cases and other serious crimes.
J&K: HPC directs provision of legal aid to inmates eligible for temporary bail, parole
Maharashtra: HPC directs re-release of prisoners amid Covid-19
SC orders re-release of prisoners from jail amid Covid-19 surge