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A city court here released six undertrial prisoners Wednesday as a start to the project of putting the criminal justice system on a fast track. The plan is to reduce the number of undertrial prisoners by almost two-thirds in the next six months.

The process, an initiative of Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily who was present at the Patiala House court here to witness the first such release Wednesday, was started in view of congestion in Indian jails, the huge pendency of cases and long delays in the justice delivery system.

“It’s a reformative process and should be encouraged,” Moily said on the occasion.

Forty three cases were listed Wednesday in the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ajay Pandey, all dealing with petty offences. The list included prisoners who are still in jail just because they cannot raise their bail bond money.

Six prisoners were released as part of the effort Wednesday.

“We are planning to release 1.7 lakh prisoners till July 31 around India. To begin this, we have informed all the courts and the various legal services authorities to prepare the list of prisoners who can be released,” Moily said.

The minister plans to speed up trials not related to heinous crimes.

The government has asked all state high courts to identify undertrials who are not involved in heinous crimes and whose cases can be expedited.

Moily said the union cabinet has “in principle” agreed to operationalise and implement the national legal mission – “a step towards guaranteeing access to justice for every citizen, including those in jails”.

The minister said chief justices of state high courts have been asked to prepare a report “as fast as possible” about the people in jails, their offences, the nature of cases, and the maximum punishment they can invite so these trials can be completed by July 31

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