The Apex Court has directed HC legal services committee & state legal services authority across the country to prepare digital records of cases of prisoners whose jail appeals are pending before the Supreme Court due to incomplete records.
On Friday, in an order, a bench of Justice UU Lalit & Justice S Ravindra Bhat directed the 2 bodies to supply all case records including deposition of witnesses concerned in digital format for smooth hearing of jail pleas.
Jail petitions are requests, appeals or applications of any kind, filed by convicts who can't afford an Advocate. These pleas are forwarded by jail authorities to the state legal services authority concerned. The SC Legal Services Authority assigns the case to a lawyer on its panel who arranges the necessary documents & gets it ready for hearing. The panel’s lawyer assists the Court as amicus curiae to argue the appeal.
The bench said such pleas often reached the lawyer from the panel of amicus curiae or those engaged by the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC) with incomplete documents & ordered that the state legal services authority or the HC legal services committee should send “complete record of the case in digital form”.
Apart from the HC & trial Court judgments, the Supreme Court said relevant material such as deposition of relevant witnesses & other documents such as custody certificate disclosing the length of custody undergone by the accused should also be shared with the Supreme Court’s registry or SCLSC in digital format.
The SC received a jail petition on behalf of the convict, Kailash Thakan challenging the Rajasthan high court’s Aug 6, 2019 verdict confirming his conviction & life sentence. The case was assigned to advocate Karan Bharihoke as amicus curiae on Aug 17, 2021. The lawyer was given 2 weeks to prepare the appeal.
Bharihoke told the court on Oct 8 that he could not prepare the appeal since the case record including the depositions of the relevant witnesses was yet to be provided.