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Supreme Court says undertrials should be informed about plea status within a week, seeks responses from states

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested creation of a mechanism where undertrial prisoners are informed about the status of their appeals against conviction in the high court or the apex court within a week.

The top court said that a para-legal volunteer of State Legal Service Authority (SLSA) can visit the prisoner in jail and inform him about the status of his case.

A bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao observed that many a time, an undertrial prisoner does not get to know what has happened to their case.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

"In that case, there should be a mechanism in which a para-legal volunteer of SLSA can maintain a register, if not a computer, and inform the prisoner in jail about the case within a week's time. He should also be informed what are his other legal remedies and how it can be availed," it said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 12 December and appointed senior advocates R Basant and Sidharth Luthra as amicus curiae in the case to assist it in the matter.

It directed the notices to be served to all the states and Union Territories and sought their responses.

On 30 March, in a step aimed at improving the criminal justice system, the apex court had asked all the states and high courts to come up with suggestions to arrive at a general consensus on the need to amend criminal manuals to bring about "uniform best practices" across the country.

The top court had decided to take up the matter on its own while hearing a criminal appeal in a case in Kerala.

It had issued notices to registrar general of all the high courts apart from the chief secretaries/the administrators of all the states/Union Territories, to arrive at a general consensus on the need to amend the rules of practice/criminal manuals to bring about uniform best practices across the country.

It had said that though there were beneficial provisions in the rules of some high courts which ensure that documents like list of witnesses and list of exhibits referred to, are annexed to the judgment and order of the trial court, "these features do not exist in rules of some other high courts".

The bench had said that the court "may consider issue of certain general guidelines to be followed across the board by all criminal courts in the country".

The apex court had flagged some deficiencies like "pernicious practice of the trial judge leaving the recording of deposition to the clerk concerned.

"Recording of evidence goes on in more than one case in the same courtroom, at the same time, under the presence and general supervision of the presiding officer which has to be disapproved strongly and discontinued forthwith."


Published Date: Nov 07, 2017 20:10 PM | Updated Date: Nov 07, 2017 20:29 PM

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