The Delhi High Court issued a string of directions for the purpose of safeguarding the rights extended to undertrial prisoners.

Apart from Magistrate and Courts, the directions have also been issued to the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to ensure that the undertrials remain informed about their fundamental rights.

The directions included not extending the custody of an undertrial prisoner mechanically with respect to Section 167(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Further, the authorities have been directed to ensure that the right of an undertrial to seek default bail is not defeated under any circumstances, including principles of law and legislative mandates.

The single-judge bench specifically highlighted the provision under Section 167(2) of CrPC, 1973, and directed that neither the magistrate nor the court is empowered to mechanically extend the period of custody, for the maximum period of 15 days.

The bench explained that custody should be extended keeping in mind the 60th, 90th and 120th day of completing the investigation and submitting the charge sheet. However, the same depends upon the nature of offence and applicability of a Special enactment.

The bench added that the format of custody warrant shall include a column which would indicate the date on which the default bail had been granted to the undertrial prisoner.

Moreover, the bench upheld the obligation of jail authorities to inform the undertrials regarding the date when their right to default bail accrues.

The bench took note of this issue in a case wherein a plea had been filed to challenge the Sessions Court order which dismissed petitioner’s revision petition, which had been filed for challenging the dismissal of application of default bail under respective provisions.

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