Gujarat High Court Grants ₹1 Lakh Damages Over Email Attachment Error

In a troubling case in Gujarat, a man who had been granted bail in 2020 remained behind bars for an additional three years. The reason? The prison authorities claimed they were unable to open an email attachment containing his bail order sent by the High Court registry. As a result, the Gujarat High Court has ordered the state to compensate the individual with ₹1 lakh.

The man in question, Chandanji Thakor, aged 27, had originally been serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. His sentence was suspended on September 29, 2020, with this information communicated to the prison authorities via email from the High Court registry. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the email went unnoticed by the jail authorities, and Thakor’s release order remained unimplemented.

According to the prison authorities, they were unable to take the necessary action because they couldn’t open the attachment in the received email. Additionally, the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) did not inform the jail authorities about the suspension of Thakor’s sentence.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation and the negligence on the part of the jail authorities, the Gujarat High Court ruled that the state must pay Thakor ₹1 lakh in compensation. The court stressed that this case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for improved coordination and communication between legal entities and prison officials.

The court went further by directing all District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) to compile data on prisoners who have been granted bail but may still be incarcerated due to various reasons, such as a lack of surety or non-execution of jail bonds. These authorities are tasked with investigating the reasons behind the continued detention of such individuals.

This ruling underscores the critical importance of ensuring that individuals who have been granted bail are released promptly and without undue delay. In Thakor’s case, the failure to open a simple email attachment had a profound impact on his life, resulting in an extended period of incarceration despite being eligible for release on bail.

This case highlights the pressing need for effective procedures to prevent such oversights in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to implementing court orders for the release of individuals who have been granted bail. It also serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted routine operations and communications, leading to unfortunate situations like Thakor’s prolonged imprisonment.

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