Gujarat High Court grants ₹1 lakh damages to man who spent 3 years in prison as jail authority could not open bail order attached to email

The jail authorities claimed that necessary action could not be taken because though they had received the email containing the bail order, they were unable to open the attachment.

A convict in Gujarat who had secured bail in 2020 continued to languish in jail for another three years with the prison authorities claiming that they could not open the bail order which was sent to them by the High Court registry as an attachment to email [Chandanji @ Gato Chhanaji Thakor V. State Of Gujarat].

A division bench of Justice AS Supehia and Justice MR Mengdey ordered the State to pay a compensation of ₹1 lakh to a 27-year-old convict Chandanji Thakor after a fresh application was moved by him.

"In the present case, the registry of this Court had categorically informed the jail authorities about the order passed by this Court releasing the applicant on regular bail. It is not the case that such E-mail was not received by the jail authorities. It is the case of the jail authorities that necessary action could not be taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and though they have received the E-mail, they were unable to open the attachment," the Court noted in its order.

The Court further noted that though the email was sent to District Sessions Court too, no efforts were made by the Court to see that the order releasing the convict on bail was appropriately implemented.

The present case is an eye opener,” said the Court.

Considering the plight of the prisoner who spent almost three years in jail despite having secured bail, the Court said it was inclined to grant compensation to him.

The convict was serving life imprisonment in a murder case when his sentence was suspended on September 29, 2020.

The same was communicated by the registry of the High Court to the jail authorities via e-mail but due to COVID-19 pandemic, the e-mail was not noticed by the jail authorities and the order passed by the Court was not implemented.

The jail authorities claimed that necessary action could not be taken due to COVID-19 pandemic and though they had received the email, they said they were unable to open the attachment.

The Court also said the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) had failed to point out the suspension of sentence order to the jail authorities.

Hence, though the applicant was granted bail, he continued to remain in prison due to remissness by prison authorities, the Court said.

The applicant, though was released and could have enjoyed his freedom, was forced to remain in jail only because no attention was paid by the jail authorities to contact the Registry or Sessions Court with regard to the order passed by this Court,” said the Court. 

It blamed the negligence of the jail authorities for the situation and directed the State to pay the ₹1 lakh compensation within a period of 14 days, for the "serious lapse"

Considering the seriousness of the case, the Court directed all the DLSAs  to collect data of all prisoners who have been granted bail but may not have been released yet.

The DLSA shall collect the reasons for their not having been released either for want of surety or non-execution of the jail bonds or for any other reason,” the Court directed while listing the matter for hearing on October 18 to ensure compliance with the directions.

Additional Public Prosecutor Ronak Raval represented the State.

[Read Order]

Chandanji @ Gato Chhanaji Thakor V State Of Gujarat.pdf
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