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Jharkhand HC Admits Petition on Mass Incarceration of Adivasis & Dalits Youth from oppressed sections of society languishing in jail due to inordinate delays

09, Jan 2018 | Teesta Setalvad

After several preliminary hearings, the Jharkand HC has admitted the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee [PPSC] on under-trial prisoners in the jails of Jharkhand. Several thousands of them, mostly Adivasi and Dalit youth, who have been languishing in prison because their trials have been deliberately prolonged. If speedy trial had been held most of them would have been be acquitted by now, the petition alleges.

The HC has taken cognizance of the limited findings submitted by Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee [PPSC] and the court has directed the Home Secretary / IG-Prisons to place before the court the details of all under-trial prisoners in all the jails of the state by the January 29 when the next hearing will take place.

Persecuted Prisoners’ Solidarity Committee (PPSC), a platform of Lawyers, Activists and socially committed persons moves the High Court to expedite the criminal proceedings long pending before various criminal courts in the state against the hundreds of tribals, dalits and other marginalized communities’ youth in the State of Jharkhand implicated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and 17 Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) where Stan Swamy, a known social activist based in Ranchi is the first petitioner, presents the pathetic situation of the under-trials due to the snail pace at which the criminal proceedings happen in the state especially in the case of victims of/ crusaders against the state repression.

The Writ Petition (WP No. 4212/2017) is a result of almost two years long research where a report was published by Bagaicha, a social action centre. This PIL focuses on the undue delay caused by the apparent mala fide actions of the state. Advocate Deepak Kumar argued the matter before the division bench consisting of the acting chief justice of the Jharkhand High Court and gave directions to the Secretary, Home department or/and the Inspector General, Prisons that a list of prisoners languishing in all the jails of the state should be furnished by January 29, 2018 when the PIL will be heard next. The respondents in the PIL were also directed to file reasons for undue delay caused by prolonged trial or pending due to the state delay in obtaining necessary.

CJP had focussed on this issue through a special feature in November 2017

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You may read excerpts from the story here:

The petition filed by Stan Swamy and others, after a detailed fact finding in Jharkand seeks to enforce the fundamental right to speedy trials of the ignorant and deprived members of the indigenous / downtrodden communities from the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes and other backward classes of Jharkhand facing trials in the courts.

Over three hundred Jharkhandi adivasis continue to be incarcerated despite the Supreme Court’s orders of speedy trials. Hence this petition seeks to get them immediate relief and get them released on interim bail. The petition also seeks orders from the High court to constitute a Commission of Inquiry in all 24 districts of the state of Jharkhand and record the present status of affairs in the light of the leading example of the District jail, Chaibasa revealed by the Research Report of Bagaicha. The petition is likely to come up soon.

At the jail at Chaibasa, a total of 72 prisoners were identified in as of 28.02.2017, who together faced a total of 108 cases registered at about half a dozen police stations in the district of West Singhbhum, often against unknown and unnamed offenders. The comprehensive list may be read here.

Principal District and Sessions Judge, Chaibasa and a total of 4 District and Additional Sessions Judges, 2 Assistant Sessions Judges, a Chief Judicial Magistrate and a Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate were the concerned judicial officers posted at the learned courts below where these cases and trials were pending. On analysing the data for the above-specified cases at Chaibasa, the disposal of as many as 101 of the above-said 108 cases, amounting to about 93.5 percent of the cases, were found held up on account of some inordinate or undue delay or the other.

 

Feature Image: Representational Image

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