Delhi police ‘lose’ 283 killers and kidnappers

India on 20 June 2014
Location : Delhi | Source : Telegraph. Image Source: Flickr user Appropos

A High Court in India has ordered Delhi’s police to find 283 murderers, kidnappers and robbers serving life sentences after they were released on bail while they appealed against their convictions.

According to the court, they were among more than 900 prisoners serving life sentences in the capital who were released despite being convicted of murder and other serious violent crimes.
Their disappearance has embarrassed Delhi’s police and highlighted India’s relaxed attitude to granting bail to some of its most dangerous prisoners and serious offenders.

Earlier this year leading Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, serving a five year sentence for possessing weapons linked to the 1993 Mumbai bombings in which 250 people were killed, was released for a month to look after his wife who had been mildly ill. Last year one of India’s most senior politicians to be convicted of corruption, Lalu Prasad Yadav, was released on bail just ten weeks after he was jailed for five years.

Most prisoners have been entitled to be released on bail since 2010 when a High Court ruled that both those who had lost their initial appeals and those making their first appeal against conviction should be entitled to release while they awaited their hearing.

Sunil Gupta, of Delhi’s Prisons Department said the missing prisoners had been released “to re-establish social and family ties”.

They had given local addresses at the time of their release which had later “ceased to exist”. The police had tried to contact them but got “no response”, she said. The convicts would remain free for the average four to five years it takes for appeals to be heard.

Vrinda Grover, a leading lawyer and campaigner for women’s safety, said the error had happened because “the police do not do their jobs properly”.

“We cannot deny bail to a prisoner whose appeal is pending before a court. It's the police that need to take effective measures to keep a track of the person once they are out of the jail…One cannot rule out that these life convicts might get back to crime once they are out of police radar”, she said.

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