Undertrial Case Stories

1st Undertrial release

● Name – Prajwal (name changed)

● Age - 28 years

● Previously – Working in a Maruti Showroom in Bangalore as a Mechanic. Worked as a welder for four years before.

● Education – IInd year B.A. through correspondence.

● Earned around – 18,000 p.m. including over time.

● Family includes – Mother, elder brother and sister, both married. Prajwal is not married.

● Caste – Kuruma shetty.

● In prison for – four and a half years.

● Date of Admission into the jail – 2009

● Offence – 379 Indian Penal Code (IPC) – Theft

28yr old Prajwal, resident of Ramanagram District, walked free out of Bangalore Central Jail on 24 February 2014. Accused of stealing a bike in 2009, he had spent the last four and a half years in detention as an undertrial.

Amnesty International India (AI India) received details of his case in response to an RTI application filed in January 2014. After meeting Prajwal in Mysore Central Jail, where he was lodged, AI India researchers learnt through prison records that he had not one but 14 theft cases against him. On checking these records further, it was revealed that Prajwal had been acquitted in 11 cases, the last being on 6 February 2014. Three cases in a Bangalore court, remained pending against him. In stark contrast to what the records revealed, Prajwal in insisted that he had been acquitted in all 3 cases; information which was never cross verified by the Mysore jail officials. For this reason, he was transferred to the Bangalore Central Jail on 22 February 2014.

To confirm the status of Prajwal’s three cases in Bangalore courts, AI India researchers procured certified copies of judgements in these cases. According to them, Prajwal had been acquitted in these so-called ‘pending’ cases as long back as on 4 December 2010 and 5 May 2011.

On 24 February 2014, we took the three judgements to Prison Department in Bangalore and secured the immediate release of Prajwal. His release procedures from Bangalore Central Jail took about 45 minutes, after which he walked out of the prison a free man.

By then, he had spent 19 days in unlawful detention.

Prajwal now has a steady job and lives with his family. Watch his full story here.

2nd Undertrial release

● Name – Manav (name changed)

● Age - 24 years

● Occupation – painter.

● Caste – Hindu, Korama.

● In prison for – four and a half years.

● Date of Admission into the jail – 2010

● Offence – 379 Indian Penal Code (IPC) – Theft

24yr old Manav, resident of Bangalore South District, was released under S. 436A Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on 10 July 2014 by a Mysore court. Accused of stealing a bike in 2009, he had spent the last four and half years in detention as an undertrial.

AI India team was introduced to Manav by Prajwal (undertrial previously released due to AI India’s intervention in February 2014) in Bangalore Central Jail. They were co-accused in a number of cases pending against them. As per details procured from the Bangalore Central Jail, Manav had 28 cases (spread over four districts) against him, out of which he had been acquitted in 24 cases. As on date, he has four cases pending in four districts across Karnataka.

His release was secured in the case pending in Mysore district, in lieu of an application filed under S. 436A of the CrPC.

In this case, a body warrant was issued for Manav by the Court in January 2013, but was executed only one year later, in January 2014. A body warrant is a substitute for ‘judicial custody’ in instances where a person has multiple cases against him or her, and is already in judicial custody for first case he or she is charged with. Execution of a body warrant is completed by the physical production of the accused in court before a magistrate.

As per strict reading of law, half time for the purposes of S. 436A is calculated from the date of physical production of the accused in court (in this case, in January 2014). However, the one year delay between January 2013 and January 2014 happened only on account of non-production of the accused in court due to lack of police escorts. However, Ashok’s lawyer argued before the court that delay in production of the accused due to the fault of a state agency (police escorts) should not work to the detriment of the accused or his legal rights. This argument was appreciated by the court, and S. 436A was found to be applicable in this case.

A few days after getting bail in the Mysore case, Manav secured bail in a case pending in Bangalore. However, despite securing releases in Mysore and Bangalore cases, Manav still can’t walk out of jail because of two cases pending against him in Mandya and Srirangapatna districts of Karnataka.

3rd Undertrial release

● Name – Shankar (name changed)

● Age - 23 years

● In prison for – four years.

● Date of Admission into the jail – September 2011

● Offence – 379 Indian Penal Code (IPC) – Theft

Shankar, resident of Mysore District, was released from Mysore Central Jail in the second week of July 2014. Accused of stealing a bike and he had spent about two years and nine months in judicial custody without ever having availed the benefit of bail or release under S. 436A CrPC due to lack of legal advice.

Shankar’s released from jail was a result of our engagements with the Principal District Judge (PDJ), Mysore regarding constitution of the Undertrial Review Committee (UTRC) in the district to ensure effective implementation of S. 436A CrPC in all undertrial cases. Following up on our engagement with her, the PDJ, Mysore wrote to all Magistrates of the district, including the Magistrate before whom Shankar’s matter was being heard, emphasizing the need for proper compliance of the section.

Keeping this direction in mind (recorded in his order), the Magistrate extended the benefit of S. 436A CrPC to Shankar’s case in an order dated 9 July 2014.

Shankar was released from jail in the second week of July 2014.

4th Undertrial release

● Name – Vinayak (name changed)

● Age - 39 years

● Occupation – Auto driver.

● Education – IInd year pre-university.

● Family includes – Mother, son, and two younger brothers.

● In prison for – three years three months and 14 days.

● Date of Admission into the jail – July 2010

● Offence – 384 Indian Penal Code (IPC) – Extortion

Vinayak was released from Tumkur District Jail in August 2014. He was lodged in this district jail for the last three years, three months and 14 days for an offence which attracts a maximum of three years punishment. His trial remained pending during this period.

After learning about his case in an RTI response, AI India brought it to the notice of the Principal District Judge, Tumkur who placed the matter up for discussion before UTRC. AI India was invited to participate in this committee meeting. After considering and verifying the facts highlighted by AI India team, the UTRC, in its order dated 11 August 2014, took cognizance of the fact that any further continuation of the judicial custody of Vinayak is neither legally justifiable nor humane. The UTRC directed the concerned Judicial Magistrate to apply S. 436A CrPC to this case and order immediate release of Vinayak on personal bond. The Judicial Magistrate, complying with the order of the UTRC, released the undertrial from jail, vide an order dated 11 August 2014.

This is a significant achievement for AI India’s undertrials project as the release was facilitated through the UTRC, a forum which became functional owing to our advocacy efforts.

5th Undertrial release

● Name – Mohd. Yusuf (name changed)

● Occupation – Agricultural coolie and mechanic

● In prison for – three years

● Date of Admission into the jail – 2012

● Offence – 379 IPC (max punishment three years)

Accused of accused of theft, Yusuf has spent more than three years in judicial custody in the present case - hence more time spent in jail than he would have had he been convicted.

AI India procured the details about Yusuf’s case pending in Mysore district through an RTI reply. AI India researchers visited the Mysore Central Jail in August 2014 to verify his prison records and also sought the help of a local lawyer to verify his court records. Through these inspections, it was revealed that Yusuf’s case has been at the pre-judgment stage since June 2014. With 12 hearings between June and November 2014, Yusuf had not been produced for any court hearings, despite directions from the court to the Superintendent of Police and the jail authorities.

After about two months of verifying all details to be sure of the fact that S. 436A CrPC is applicable to Yusuf’s case – AI India researchers got in touch with Yusuf’s lawyer in October 2014 and advised him to file an application under S. 436A CrPC to secure his release. AI India also shared with the lawyer the Supreme Court order in Bhim Singh vs. Union of India dated September 2014 - which stressed the implementation of this legal provision. Yusuf’s lawyer filed a S. 436A application in court soon thereafter.

Through an order dated 7 November 2014, the Senior Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate of the First Class ordered Yusuf’s release under S. 436A CrPC on executing a personal bond of Rs. 50,000/-.