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Friday, June 11, 2010
Mission Undertrial: Prisons in India shed flab - Nearly A Lakh Undertrials Freed In 3 Months; AP Ranks 3rd; Moilys Mission On Track To Meet July 31 Deadline
When law minister Veerappa Moily announced his Mission Undertrial plan on January 16 to release or settle cases of 75% of prisoners facing trial for years for petty offences, many were sceptical of the idea while others termed it as a tall claim. He had fixed a sixmonth deadline for the scheme. Surprisingly, Moilys efforts in sensitising state governments about violation of fundamental rights of these undertrial prisoners has yielded results. By April 31, nearly a lakh undertrial prisoners across the country had either been released or their cases taken to the logical conclusion conviction or acquittal in just three months making 2010 a watershed as far as prisons and human rights are concerned.
Moily said various ways were adopted to allow the languishing undertrials to get out of prison plea bargaining system in which the undertrial accepts guilt and the court records conviction and releases him by sentencing him to a period of imprisonment already undergone, expediting their cases by holding trials on a day-to-day basis and holding court proceedings inside prison premises or through video-conferencing. To ensure that there was no hitch from the government, Moily divided the country into various zones and put an additional solicitor general in charge of it to ensure that the first actual legal reform releasing undertrials was very successful.