SC’s digital push

Fast and secure transmission of bail orders to be reality soon

SC’s digital push

The Chief Justice of India’s remark that the jail authorities seem to be relying on ancient modes of communication through pigeons sets the ball rolling for correcting the anomaly of the delay in releasing people granted bail. ‘It is too much that prisoners have to wait even after the Supreme Court has granted bail as jails are insisting on the order to come by post,’ the Bench said, while expressing its desire to soon have in place a system that will ensure secure electronic transmission of its orders on bail. State governments have been asked to list the prisons that have Internet connections and by when jails can be equipped with facilities for the expeditious release of prisoners.

The SC had taken suo motu cognisance after an Agra prison took four days to release 13 men who had been granted bail by the top court on July 8. They had already served 14 to 22 years in prison when it was found that they were juveniles at the time the crime was committed. The Solicitor General did flag the concerns of the jail authorities in insisting on authenticated copies in the light of fake or fabricated orders being presented, but agreed that verification from the official website of the apex court should take care of any doubt over the authenticity of the order.

The push to augment judicial infrastructure, including the proposal to set up the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation, is a welcome step. Only last month, the CJI had written to the Information Technology Minister seeking steps to resolve the poor digital connectivity in rural, tribal and hilly areas, saying that this was adversely impacting the pace of justice delivery. A whole generation of lawyers, it was pointed out, was being pushed out of the system due to technological inequality, especially in the time of the pandemic, and steps were also sought to help advocates who had lost their livelihood.

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