Warning of a blanket bail order, the Supreme Court has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for not taking steps to release undertrial prisoners jailed for more than 10 years despite a top court order.
The court also came down strongly on the Allahabad High Court for not deciding the bail petitions expeditiously.
The bench of Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh yesterday said the state government and the high court were “not being sensitive” and added that it was prepared to “take the burden” and decide the cases by itself. The court warned that it “will pass a blanket order granting bail”.
The strong observations came as the court was hearing a bail petition by one Suleman, an undertrial who has been in jail for 12 years now. He moved the top court after no high court bench was available to hear his appeal.
In his plea, he has said that many undertrials had been languishing in prison for over 15 years without bail.
“Give bail to undertrials, or we will do it. If you are not able to handle it, then we will. There is a problem with both the high court and the state. You cannot put these people behind bars indefinitely,” the top court said, noting that 853 undertrials have been in the state’s jails for over 10 years.
The court has now directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit details of these undertrials in two weeks. The matter will be heard next on August 17.
The court referred to a report filed by the senior registrar of the high court on people incarcerated for more than 15 years, and between 10 and 14 years. “It appears that 62 bail applications are still to be disposed of and are to be listed in the next 2-3 weeks. 232 subsequent fresh bail applications have been filed during this period from April 22, 2022 to July 17, 2022 where no bail was applied previously,” it said.
The Supreme Court on May 9 said that all one-time offenders who have spent more than 10 years in jail should be granted bail and asked the Allahabad High Court to decide their pleas swiftly by clubbing them. “Having laid down norms, it should not take weeks to dispose of these applications,” it said.