New Delhi: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has decided to form a working group to study the plight of tribal inmates on death row and life convicts, who are languishing in jails after 14 years of incarceration.
It has also written to states and union territories asking them to furnish information on such prisoners.
The directions have come on a petition which argued that most of the convicts belonging to tribal communities are “poor and illiterate” and do not get proper legal aid during trial or to file an appeal for parole and remission.
Life convicts and prisoners on death row in India become eligible for remission after serving 14 years in jail, i.e. the rest of the sentence need not be undergone.
The petition filed before NCST by rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy said there are no provisions which provide for automatic consideration of cases of such prisoners for pardon and commutation under Article 161 of the Constitution (Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases).
Tripathy has sought constitution of a committee of experts to study and deal with such cases sympathetically.
“Information has been sought from states and union territories. On the basis of the findings and recommendations of the working group, the commission will decide about the future course of action,” an official told PTI.
“The provisions of remission, pardon, parole and appropriate legal aid remain an untouched chapter for these victims of traditional social torture and government negligence,” the petition filed by Tripathy read.
“Most of the life convicts belonging to Scheduled Castes are poor, illiterate, unfortunate victims of circumstances… They fall victim to highhandedness and arbitrary actions of the state and negligence of authorities, and cannot complain due to lack of knowledge and money,” the rights activist said.
Such people do not have access to adequate and appropriate legal aid at trial court and high court levels, and hence, legal remedies remain a mirage for them, he added.
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