Source: The Times of India

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India : law panel for cut in undertrials’ jail time

The Law Commission is ready to submit to the Centre a set of recommendations intended to bring in revolutionary changes in bail jurisprudence which, if implemented, would help the release of the poor among the over 2.38 lakh undertrial prisoners languishing in jails for years.

The commission’s report on amendments to bail provisions has been finalised and the radical recommendations, if accepted by the government and implemented, would make true the Supreme Court’s 40-year-old ruling in the State of Rajasthan Vs Balchand case, in which Justice Krishna Iyer had said in September 1977: “The basic rule may perhaps be tersely put as bail, not jail.”

The commission, headed by Justice B S Chauhan, examined Section 436A of the criminal procedure code, which provides that an undertrial, accused of offences that attract a maximum imprisonment of seven years, should be released on serving half the sentence.

The panel recommends that the period of incarceration be reduced to one-third of the maximum punishment. This means, if an undertrial is accused of an offence attracting a maximum six-year sentence, he would be released on bail after two years in jail.

For other offences, which attract a maximum jail sentence of over seven years but excluding those punishable with death, an undertrial should be released on serving half the maximum sentence, commission sources said.

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