16 April 2021 4:34 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the state government to file a detailed response in regards to the conditions of prisons in the state. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj summarised the issues on which the state will have to respond by May 29. The issues are as follows. Hygiene of prisoners. The court noted hygiene...
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the state government to file a detailed response in regards to the conditions of prisons in the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj summarised the issues on which the state will have to respond by May 29. The issues are as follows.
Hygiene of prisoners.
The court noted hygiene depends on various factors, first and foremost is availability of sanitation facilities, For example the model prison manual provides that six prisoners should have one common toilet. However, material placed by government advocate on record shows that in the central prison at Bengaluru for 9.4 prisoners one toilet is available.
The standard prescribed by model prisons manual for bathrooms is for 10 prisons, one common bathroom. In many jails in the state of Karnataka, for more than 15 prisons one bathroom is provided.
The court also noted that another aspect of hygiene is cleanliness maintained not only of toilets and bathrooms but in general of the premises of central prison."
The court said the second issue will be overcrowding. State government must point out whether there are any standard norms regarding size of the cells/barracks of various categories in prisons.
If there is a perpetual issue of overcrowding as is in Central prison, Bengaluru, the state government must also place on record whether there are any proposals pending for construction of additional premises for central jail.
Food provided to inmates of prison:
The bench said "Another important issue is of food provided to the inmates of prison. Whether nutritious food is provided and whether any quality control on the food prepared. State will have to explain whether the opinion of experts has been taken for finalising the categories of food provided to prisoners and its quantity also." The state government must also ascertain whether proper infrastructure is made available in kitchens in jails and whether adequate staff is available for manning kitchens.
Meeting of inmates with family/relatives
The bench said "Written submissions do not throw light on the questions whether proper facilities are provided to meet their relatives." Noting that apex court in several cases has dealt with the issue including the famous decision of apex court in the case of inhuman conditions in 1382 prison.
Health of prisoners:
The bench said "The issue of health of prisoners is also of vital importance. Whether an adequate number of beds are available in hospitals attached to prison. Whether an adequate number of medical staff is available and whether an adequate number of para medical staff is provided."
On going through the data provided by the government it found that out of sanctioned posts of 114 personnel which consist of Chief Medical Officer, Medical Officer, Psychiatrist, nursing staff, 86 posts are vacant. Which means that sanction strength of para medical and medical staff across the prison is 114 and only 28 posts have been filled in.
The court said "It is shocking to note that all seven post of CMO are vacant out of 20, a total of 13 post of medical officers are vacant out of 8, six post of psychiatrist are vacant, there are 24 sanctioned posts of staff nurse all the posts are vacant."
Accordingly, it directed the "State government to take immediate steps for filling in vacant posts. State government shall file an affidavit recording the outer limit for filling in the post. In the meanwhile the state government can consider whether some of the staff members attached to government hospitals can be transferred to the prisons in the state and more particularly medical officers and staff nurses."
State government is also to respond on the issues regarding clothing provided to jail inmates, facilities provided to those children staying with their mothers, who are the inmates of the jail, wages paid to the prisoners, for doing work entrusted to them.
While filing the affidavit the state government will also record compliance with various directions issued in the decision of Supreme Court dated September 15, 2017 in the case of Inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons. The court also directed Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to file its written response.
The suo-motu petition will be next heard on June 4.