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SC seeks government's proactive role on 'undertrial' prisoners

Posted on Aug 30 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 29 : The Supreme Court Friday asked the central government to place before it the complete information about "undertrial" prisoners languishing in jails all over the country till March 2014 and urged it to play an active role in addressing the situation.

"It is a serious matter. You can't be a mute spectator. You must take a proactive role. Call a meeting of the home secretaries of the states" to address the issue, a bench of Chief Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman told the government.

Taking on record the statement by senior counsel Rupinder Singh Suri that the home ministry will convene a meeting of state home secretaries to discuss the issue, the court gave government six weeks time to convene such a meeting and another two weeks to submit a report.

The court's directions came in the course of the hearing of a PIL drawing the court's attention to scheduled tribe prisoners all over the country and particularly the condition of women among them.

Taking exception to many of the state governments having not responded to the notice issued to then earlier, the court said it was a serious issue and all the states were impleaded in the matter.

"Once we issue a notice there has to be a response," the court said as it was told that there are more than 31,000 scheduled tribe undertrial prisoners including more than a,000 women.

Chief Justice Lodha said: "It is obligation of the state. Every state has to take care. Court alone can't do. System can't be allowed to go from bad to worse."

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