High Court takes cognisance of SC’s undertrials order

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The Bombay high court has taken cognisance of the issue of rights of undertrials, especially women and their children, and also mentally-challenged convicts, on the basis of a Supreme Court order. Justices P.V. Hardas and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi on Wednesday appointed counsel Ashok Mundargi as an amicus curiae to assist in this matter.

The judges took cognisance of the issue on a Supreme Court order of December 2014, which had asked high courts in 24 states in the country to examine the “rights of prisoners, especially females and children with them.”

The order said, “While examining the issue touching the rights of undertrial prisoners, especially the females and the children with them, the high courts may also examine the question relating to rights of mentally challenged undertrials and convicts and issue appropriate directions.” Advocate R.D. Upadhyay had filed a special leave petition in the SC, highlighting the plight of undertrial prisoners languishing in jails without trial for a long time.

The apex court bench had said, “The high courts may, while examining the rights of such unfortunate members of society who suffer from any mental disability, also examine whether any directions are required to be issued in relation to people who suffer from such illness but are not involved in any crime and yet suffer harassment, neglect or deprivation at the hands of their family or are seen roaming about in public places without anyone taking responsibility for their care, protection or maintenance.”