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Law

Consider Modifying Prisoners’ Bail Conditions if Bonds Not Furnished Within a Month: SC to Courts

The top court said one of the reasons that delays the release of an accused or a convict is the insistence upon a local surety and suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked courts to consider modifying the bail conditions imposed on undertrial prisoners if the bonds are not furnished within a month.

A bench of Justices S.K. Kaul and Abhay S. Oka said one of the reasons that delays the release of an accused or a convict is the insistence upon a local surety and suggested that in such cases, the courts may not impose the condition of local surety.

The apex court made these observations while noting that a number of undertrial prisoners are in jail even after being granted bail.

“In cases where the undertrial or convict requests that he can furnish bail bond or sureties once released, then in an appropriate case, the court may consider granting temporary bail for a specified period to the accused so that he can furnish bail bond or sureties,” the bench said, according to LiveLaw.

“If the bail bonds are not furnished within one month from the date of grant [of] bail, the concerned court may suo motu take up the case and consider whether the conditions of bail require modifications or relaxations,” it said.

The top court also directed that a court granting bail to an undertrial prisoner or a convict would be required to email a soft copy of the order to the prisoner through the jail superintendent on the same day or the next day.

“The jail superintendent would be required to enter the date of grant of bail in the e-prisons software (or any other software being used by the prison department).”

The case will be heard next in March.

Earlier, NALSA had told the top court, citing data, that about 5,000 undertrial prisoners were in jails despite being granted bail and 1,417 of them were released, PTI reported.

In a report filed in the apex court, NALSA had said it was in the process of creating a “master data” of all such undertrial prisoners (UTPs) who are unable to furnish sureties or bail bonds due to poverty, including the reasons for their non-release from jail.

The top court had, in its November 29, 2021 order, flagged the issue of the UTPs who continued to be in custody despite being granted bail on account of their inability to fulfil the conditions.