After taking suo motu cognisance of the delay shown on authorities in releasing from jail people granted bail, the Supreme Court on Friday asked state governments to apprise it as to how many prisons in their territory have internet connections and by when jails will be equipped with facilities to ensure the expeditious release of prisoners.
A three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana and also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and L Nageswara Rao, said, it will soon devise a secure electronic transmission mechanism of its orders on bail so that it reaches the jail authorities in minimum time to facilitate the expeditious release of inmates who have been granted bail in a case.
The court said that in the internet era, it seems that the jail authorities are relying on "ancient modes" of communication through "pigeons".
The bench also asked its Secretary-General to consult Amicus Curiae (Friend of the court) senior lawyer, Dushyant Dave and Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta for trying to make some immediate arrangement of secure direct electronic mode of communication from Supreme Court to jails.
The apex court said that is not clear yet whether the High Powered Committees (HPCs), constituted in its direction, have considered the age, comorbidity and other conditions of prisoners in deciding their release during the pandemic to prevent the spread of Covid among inmates.
The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of delay in releasing convicts by prison authorities even after being granted bail by courts on Thursday.
On July 8, the apex court had granted interim bail to 13 convicted prisoners, keeping in view the fact that they were declared as juveniles by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) at the time of the commission of the offence and already served 14 years jail sentence and are currently lodged in Agra Central Jail in Uttar Pradesh, on personal bond.
But the Uttar Pradesh authorities, however, delayed the release of these prisoners, who were released after four days. The prison authorities stated that they did not receive the certified copy of the order by post.
The convicts, who were juveniles at the time of offence have been lodged in Agra Central jail for periods ranging from around 14 to 22 years in a murder case.
The 13 convicts had approached the top court saying they are languishing in jail despite the fact that they have been declared to be below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence by the JJB.