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Liberty can wait, literacy first: Madhya Pradesh HC defers bail hearing of theft-accused illiterate man for him to learn how to sign his name

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Several senior judges have repeatedly said the liberty of a man, woman or child is of paramount importance and no one should be in jail for a day more. But for a judge in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, an illiterate undertrial’s liberty could wait until he learnt to sign his name.

On July 16, Justice Vivek Rusia deferred the bail hearing of 22-year-old Suresh to August 2, since he was illiterate and couldn’t even write his name. Poor boy was arrested for stealing a mobile phone in April this year.

Justice Rusia directed the Assistant Jail Superintendent of Subjail in Bagli to ensure someone literate among the prisoners be deputed to help Suresh learn to write his name and a fresh vakalatnama be sent from the jail with his signature.

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Luckily for Suresh, another judge, Justice Rohit Arya, granted him bail on August 4 on Rs one lakh bond and one like surety due to the fact that he has been in jail since April 20, the investigation is complete and charge sheet has been filed and he was not required for custodial investigation. More so, due to Covid-19 pandemic, the possibility of delay in conclusion of trial cannot be ruled out, Justice Arya said.

We couldn’t confirm if Suresh had learnt to sign his name when he left the sub-jail after spending nearly three weeks extra in prison at a time when the pandemic has not entirely died down.

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