Still looking for pigeons to deliver bail orders: Supreme Court | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said insistence of jail authorities for certified copies of bail orders through snail-paced postal services in the age of internet resulted in agonising delays in the release of inmates and set the ball rolling for a secure electronic mode, christened FASTER (Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Records), for quick transmission of bail orders.
“In the age of information and communication technology and internet, we are still looking at the skies for the pigeons to communicate the orders,” a bench of CJI N V Ramana and Justices L N Rao and A S Bopanna lamented before launching on the pioneering effort.
The bench directed the SC registry headed by the secretary general to prepare within two weeks, in consultation with solicitor general Tushar Mehta and amicus curiae Dushyant Dave, a detailed report on a new internet-based mechanism.
This would be called Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Records (FASTER) and will deliver the apex court‘s orders to high courts, district courts, jails and all other authorities.
The immediate trigger for the suo motu initiation of proceedings by the CJI on a much-neglected issue was delay on the part of Agra central jail authorities to release 13 persons despite grant of bail by the apex court after it was found that they have spent more than a decade in jail despite being declared juveniles at the time of the crimes.
Before the advent of postal services, pigeon post was popular, especially during war times, and was actively used till World War II. The pigeon courier service in India dates back to 1946, when it was handed over to the police by the Army. It was headquartered in Cuttack, Odisha. Pigeons were officially retired in 2002. The postal services and telephones, which signed the death warrant for pigeon post, are now facing serious competition from internet-based email facilities.
The CJI-led bench said, “We have asked the Supreme Court Secretary General to devise within two weeks a secure electronic communication mode for instant transmission of SC orders granting bail to accused/convicts to the jail authorities to minimise, to the extent possible, the time lapse between grant of bail and release of the person from jail.”
The Centre welcomed the idea with both attorney general K K Venugopal and solicitor general Tushar Mehta terming the proposed mechanism as “progressive”. Mehta said any bail order uploaded on the official website of the Supreme Court should be treated as an officially certified copy by the jail authorities and take steps to release the prison inmate.
The bench said, “The idea of passing this order is to develop a fast and authentic electronic mode for transmission of court orders. The bail orders are invariably uploaded in the official website of the Supreme Court. But, the jail authorities are not accepting the copy of the orders downloaded from the website. So we want a secure transmission of authentic copy directly to the jail authorities for expeditious release of inmates who have been granted bail by the court.”
SC said for the jail authorities to receive the court orders through the electronic mode, every jail needs to be equipped with internet facilities. Given the poor spread of the internet in rural and semi-urban areas where many jails are located, the bench asked the state governments to inform the court a time period within which they would equip every jail with internet facilities.

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