SC: Free all undertrials who have served half their maximum term





The Supreme Court on Friday ordered overcrowded jails to free all undertrials who have served half their maximum term, a landmark ruling that marks the Narendra Modi government’s first step towards judicial reform.

More than two-thirds of India’s nearly four million prisoners are awaiting trial, according to human rights organisation Amnesty International, and many have already spent years in prison.

The law says prisoners awaiting trial must be released once they have served half the maximum sentence they would receive if found guilty, but that law is rarely implemented.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha said that prisons must comply with the law and ordered local judges and magistrates to oversee the process. Prisoners serving life terms or slapped with death penalty will, however, not come under the ambit of this new programme, that will be first implemented in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

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