Jails are overcrowded and their living conditions appalling and the courts should ensure that trials, especially in cases where special laws enact stringent provisions, are taken up and concluded speedily, the Supreme Court has said.
The top court said if the trials are not concluded in time, the injustice wrecked on the individual is immeasurable.
A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta made the observation while enlarging a man accused under the the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act on bail.
"Incarceration has further deleterious effects, where the accused belongs to the weakest economic strata: immediate loss of livelihood, and in several cases, scattering of families as well as loss of family bonds and alienation from society.
"The courts, therefore, have to be sensitive to these aspects, and ensure that trials, especially in cases where special laws enact stringent provisions, are taken up and concluded speedily," the bench said.
The apex court said laws which impose stringent conditions for grant of bail, may be necessary in public interest; yet, if trials are not concluded in time, the injustice wrecked on the individual is immeasurable.
"Jails are overcrowded and their living conditions, more often than not, appalling. According to the Union Home Ministry's response to Parliament, the National Crime Records Bureau had recorded that as on December 31, 2021, over 5,54,034 prisoners were lodged in jails against a total capacity of 4,25,069 lakhs in the country. Of these 122,852 were convicts; the rest 4,27,165 were undertrials," the bench said.
The top court, while ordering release of the man on bail, said he has been in custody for over seven years and four months.
The progress of the trial has been at a snail's pace as 30 witnesses have been examined, whereas 34 more have to be examined, it said.
-With PTI Input