A convict in Gujarat who had been granted bail in September 2020 continued to remain in jail for another three years as prison authorities could not open the bail order sent to them by the High Court registry as an attachment to an email, Bar and Bench reported on Tuesday.

On September 22, a division bench of Justice AS Supehia and Justice MR Mengdey said that the case was an “eye-opener” and ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to 27-year-old Chandanji Thakor within two weeks.

The judges noted that the court registrar had categorically informed the jail authorities that Thakor had been granted regular bail.

“It is not the case that such e-mail was not received by the jail authorities,” the bench said. “It is the case of the jail authorities that necessary action could not be taken in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and though they have received the e-mail, they were unable to open the attachment.”

Thakor was serving life imprisonment in a murder case when his sentence was suspended in September 2020. He was released from the jail last week on September 21, a day before the High Court was scheduled to hear his fresh application.

The judges said that the email about his bail had also been sent to the district sessions court, which also did not make any effort to implement it.

“It is further reported that no communication was received by learned advocate Mr Soni, who was representing the applicant and it is only when the present application was listed, the jail authority came to know about the order passed by the coordinate bench [in 2020],” the High Court said.

The court also pointed to failure on the part of the District Legal Services Authority and directed them to collect data about prisoners who have been granted bail but may not have been released yet.