The trials faced by under-trials

By Bibek Debroy:

I read Arun Shourie’s recently-published ‘The Commissioner for Lost Causes’.  One of those causes wasn’t quite lost.  “Around 40,000 undertrials were estimated to have been released as a result of the Supreme Court’s judgements…Twenty-seven thousand of these were from Bihar jails.” Everyone interested in the legal system now knows the name of Hussainara Khatoon.  Who was Hussainara Khatoon?  She was one of the women prisoners and her name is linked to that of Pushpa Kapila Hingorani, the lawyer.  Hussainara and her family fled Bangladesh in 1975 and she was held in protective custody for four years, though the ostensible rule was that she should have been released on bond.  To quote Arun Shourie, “A public-spirited advocate, an activist and creative Judge, propitious times, a new type of journalism.”  A fortuitous set of circumstances ensuring that particular cause, of under-trials, wasn’t lost.

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