Maharashtra CIC asks authorities to publish info of under trials who completed 50% of their maximum prison term
Thousands of under trials, who have completed 50% of their maximum prison term, would get a major relief thanks to the activism of Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner
“This will facilitate the prisoners and other activists to get release of such under trials and should go a long way in giving relief to people who were denied their freedom illegally. This order will be applicable in Maharashtra and I hope RTI activists will get such orders issued in all the states,” said Mr Gandhi.
The SCIC passed the order in fulfilment of the Prison department’s obligation under Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act. The Commissioner used his powers under Section 19 (8) of the RTI Act and has ordered that this information will have to be displayed on thewebsite and on the notice boards of the prisons before 12 May 2013.
Following refusal by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to provide information about under trials in prisons in Maharashtra without any valid reasons, Mr Gandhi had filed his second appeal before the State Chief Information Commissioner.
In his second appeal, Mr Gandhi had also requested the State CIC, to direct the PIO to provide the information, penalise the PIO as per provisions of the RTI Act and reprimand the FAA for a casual approach in rejecting a citizen’s fundamental right.
A similar query by Mr Gandhi, around six years ago had led to the release of release of some under trials by the Bombay High Court. In his additional plea before the SCIC, Mr Gandhi said, “Whereas six years back the prison authorities had provided the information without any excuses, the PIO this time directed me to approach 43 different prisons. The First Appellate Authority did a faux pas by claiming exemptions under Section 8 (1) (b), (g) (h) and (j) without even attempting to justify how these would apply. I am sorry, but it appears that in the prison department in Maharashtra there is an unfortunate carelessness and regression in adherence and respect for RTI.”
Earlier in February, the union home ministry told states and Union Territories that under Section 436A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an under trial prisoner completing half of the maximum period of imprisonment should be released by the court on his personal bond with or without sureties, with the exception of those involved in heinous crimes.
According to statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau, as of December 2011, there were 2.41 lakh or 64.7% under trial prisoners out of total 3.32 lakh jail inmates across India. The occupancy rate across all prisons in the country was 112.1% or 3.72 lakh inmates against a capacity of 3.32 jail inmates, the data said.
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