Nearly 3 lakh undertrials in jails in the country: Govt

New Delhi: Nearly three lakh undertrials are languishing in various jails of the country and chief justices of the 24 high courts have been requested to direct the lower judiciary to review all cases where such persons are eligible for bail and can be released.

Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda informed the Rajya Sabha that out of 4.12 lakh prison inmates, 2.78 lakh are undertrials. "In order to reduce the number of undertrials in prisons, the chief justices of the high courts have been requested to advise the district judiciary to review all cases where undertrials are eligible for bail under Section 436 and 436 A of the CrPC, and take suo motu action for their release," he told the upper house in a written reply.

Section 436 of the CrPC states that "When any person other than a person accused of a non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant by an officer in charge of a police station, or appears or is brought before a court, and is prepared at any time while in the custody of such officer or at any stage of the proceeding before such court to give bail, such person shall be released on bail..."

The minister said the chief ministers and state law ministers have been requested to use software applications to generate data of undertrials and review their cases periodically.

Responding to another question, he said at the end of 2013, 66,349 cases were pending in the Supreme Court. The number of cases pending in the 24 high courts stood at 44,62,705 in 2013. In reply to a question on vacancies in the lower judiciary (subordinate courts), he said, "On account of concerted efforts made by all stake-holders, the sanctioned strength of the subordinate judiciary has increased from 17,715 in 2012 to 19,518 in 2013."

At the end of 2013, 4,403 posts were vacant in the lower courts. According to the data provided by the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry with the minister's reply, Gujarat has the maximum number of vacancies which stood at 716 followed by 602 in Bihar. In Delhi, the vacancies stood at 294 as on December 31, 2013.

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