New Delhi: The Supreme Court will examine the validity of keeping an accused in prison as an undertrial for 22 years.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Madan B. Lokur on Friday entertained a habeas corpus writ petition filed by V. Sundervelu of Belgaum in Karnataka, who has been languishing in jail since 1991 though he had completed a 10-year sentence in one case. There are still nine cases pending against him but the maximum sentence contemplated in all them is only 10 years.

The Bench, after hearing counsel S. Mahendran, issued notice to the Centre, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan seeking their response in four weeks.

The petitioner said he had completed the 10-year sentence in 2004 but authorities were not taking steps to produce him in the States where the other cases were pending.

“The prosecution agencies are wantonly protracting the proceedings in the cases pending before courts in various States and that would be evident from the jail certificate. The jail authorities, in connivance with the prosecution agencies, are obliging the government and detaining the petitioner without following the procedure as enshrined in Sections 267 to 269 of the Code of Criminal Procedure code and set out in the Jail manual, thereby keeping him in wrongful confinement which is not only illegal but also a violation of the fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.”