30, Nov 2017 | Teesta Setalvad
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 Jharkandi 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 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.
58 out of the total of 108 cases were unduly delayed at the trial stage, some of them pending for 3-10 years, even though the number of Prosecution Witnesses (hereinafter, P.W.s) required to depose was in general not more than 15 or 20. Details of the 18 cases of inordinate delay may be read here.
The Supreme Court has spoken before on the issue of under trials, their rights, and the need to provide for speedy trials, as in Hussainara Khatoon & Ors. vs Home Secretary, State of Bihar (1979 SCR(3) 169).
The analysis of the data from Chaibasa further revealed that 25 out of the same 108 cases were found stuck up at the point of charge-framing, in some cases not for a few weeks, months or a year or two, but even for as long as 3 and 4 years.
Data from Chaibasa further brought out the alarming fact that 18 out of the same set of 108 cases were found to be delayed at the point of cognizance for periods from 6 months to as long as 4 years. The Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, in whose court the Investigating Officer may have submitted his Final Report, remained reluctant to take cognizance of even the alleged offences under those of the Sections/Acts invoked in the case, which did not require any government sanction, refusing to commit it to the Sessions Court for trial, even if a few of the alleged Sections/Acts required the sanction of a certain government authority.
The rounded off estimates of the numbers of detenues facing such cases in the various districts of Jharkhand at the time of filing this application should be close to the following: A total of about 500 in the state of Jharkhand, with a break-up of: District Jail, Chaibasa: 75; District Jail, Khunti: 50; Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan Central Jail, Hazaribagh: 40; District Jail, Latehar: 30; Central Jail, Dumka: 30; Sub-jail, TenuGhat (Bermo), District Bokaro: 30; District Jail, Giridih: 25; District Jail, Dhanbad: 20; Central Jail, Daltonganj: 20; District Jail, Garhwa: 20; District Jail, Lohardagga: 20; District Jail, Gumla: 20; Central Jail, Ghaghidih (Jamshedpur): 15; Sub-jail, Ghatsila, District East Singhbhum: 15; District Jail, Seraikela-Kharsawan: 10; District Jail, Jamtara: 10; District Jail, Deogarh: 10; District Jail, Pakur: 10; District Jail, Simdega: 10.
The Report of the All India Committee on Jail Reforms (Mulla Committee), which documented numerous violations of rights in jails in India, and recommended various rights for the prisoners, especially those under Chapter IV, including the prisoners’ right to interaction with society, as under section 4.1.13, particularly the rights to interview and to socialise, were not being properly implemented in the jails of Jharkhand.
The entire petition may be read here
Feature Image Courtesy: PTI