SIC: Information of under trials in jails to be put on website
The Chief Information Commissioner of the Maharashtra State Information Commission (SIC) Mr Ratnakar Gaikwad has directed the jail officials to suo-motu declare information of undertrials who have been in jails for more than half the maximum prison term which can be imposed on them.
The former Information Commissioner at CIC Mr. Shailesh Gandhi had filed the appeal following rejection of his application by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and then the First Appellate Authority (FAA). Using his powers under Section 19(8) of the RTI Act, the SIC has directed that information of such under trials should be put on the website and notice boards of prison. The implementation is expected by May 12 and the SIC has directed to submit a compliance report. Under Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act, there is an obligation on the public authorities to suo-motu declare certain information to the citizens.
The step is likely to benefit under trials and is a step towards increasing transparency. As per the Section 463A of CrPC, the maximum period for which an under trial prisoner can be detained without being released is not more than 50 per cent of the maximum imprisonment specified for the charge for which the prisoner has been booked for. The under trial can be released on personal bond under the law if they cannot furnish bail. Activists have pointed out that the law is seldom followed and under trials, especially the poor, suffer. Most of them will not be convicted despite the protection of law.