In India, a shocking case has come to light where a man named Chandanji Thakor spent an additional three years in prison due to a grave oversight by prison authorities who failed to open an email attachment containing a bail order.
Chandanji Thakor was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction but had his conviction suspended by the Gujarat High Court, which issued an order granting him bail in September 2020. At that time, India was emerging from a prolonged lockdown due to COVID-19, and the court had sent the bail order via email.
However, it has now been revealed that the prison authorities did not notice the attached bail order either when it was initially sent or when the court followed up on the case in December of the same year.
Describing the case as an alarming oversight, the Gujarat High Court criticized the prison authorities for their serious lapse in not complying with the court’s order issued three years ago. As a result, Thakor has been awarded compensation of Rs 100,000 (£988) to be paid within two weeks.
The judges expressed their concern, stating, that the applicant was ordered to be released and could have enjoyed his freedom. However, he 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.
The Gujarat High Court registry had sent a second email in December to the Sessions Court of Mehsana and Ahmedabad Central Jail, notifying them that Thakor had fulfilled the necessary bond requirements of Rs 20,000 (£200) and should be released. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the jail authorities failed to notice this email, leading to the court’s order going unimplemented.
According to the Supreme Court of India, a defendant should be released within seven days from the date of bail being granted. It is the responsibility of the jail’s superintendent to inform the district legal service authorities, who can then arrange for the necessary legal assistance to facilitate the release. However, in Thakor’s case, his lawyer was never informed of his eligibility for release.
Finally, after three years of wrongful imprisonment, the 27-year-old Thakor was released from prison on September 21, just a day before the court was scheduled to hear his fresh application for regular bail.
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