The Bombay High Court has voiced concerns regarding the non-production of incarcerated prisoners before Metropolitan Magistrate Courts every 15 days, in accordance with Section 309 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) in Hemant Dinkar Kandlur Versus Commissioner of Income Tax Justice Bharati Dangre was addressing a bail application where the accused, Tribhuvansing Yadav, facing forgery charges, had not been produced before the MM Court in Andheri on multiple occasions. This prompted Justice Dangre to seek information on the availability of video conferencing (VC) facilities in all MM Courts in Mumbai.
Under Section 309 of the CrPC, an accused cannot be held in custody for more than 15 days without being produced before the court to justify further detention. Observing that non-production was a recurring issue, Justice Dangre directed the prisons department to provide an affidavit on this matter.
In response, an affidavit was submitted by the Additional Director General of Police & Inspector General (Prisons & Correctional Services), State of Maharashtra, Pune. The prisons department contended that the trial court had not directed Taloja Central Prison to produce the accused, and therefore, he was not brought before the court on those dates. It was highlighted that the accused had been produced before the court last month after a warrant was issued.
Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai asserted that it was essential for the trial court to issue a production warrant, without which no accused could be presented before the court. However, Advocate Vinod Kashid, representing the petitioner, disagreed, stating that it was incorrect and misconceived. He argued that an accused could not be remanded to custody by the magistrate for a period exceeding 15 days at a time, and once produced before the court, an endorsement about the next hearing date should suffice to ensure the accused’s presence on the following date. He referred to the Supreme Court case of Ram Narayan Singh Vs. State of Delhi and Ors, 1953 AIR 277, to support his position.
Consequently, the court directed the Public Prosecutor to seek instructions on this matter and appointed Advocate Satyavrat Joshi as an amicus curiae to assist the court in finding a practical solution. Justice Dangre emphasized the need to ascertain the legal and procedural aspects, as grievances had been repeatedly raised on behalf of accused individuals who were not produced before the court on several listing dates. The court also considered the possibility of using video conferencing for producing accused individuals, particularly within Mumbai and the suburban area, pending further instructions.
This development highlights the Bombay High Court’s commitment to ensuring the rights and timely appearance of undertrial prisoners, while also exploring modern solutions such as video conferencing to address the challenges posed by non-production.