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"Prisons In India Continue To Be Rather Medieval In Their Functioning": Uttarakhand High Court Seeks Report On Jail Conditions In The State

Sparsh Upadhyay
9 March 2021 4:01 PM GMT
Prisons In India Continue To Be Rather Medieval In Their Functioning: Uttarakhand High Court Seeks Report On Jail Conditions In The State
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Stressing that the prisons in India continue to be rather medieval in their functioning, the Uttarakhand High Court last week observed that it is high time that Jails are transported from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma was hearing a plea, wherein the petitioners submitted that the State of Uttarakhand...

Stressing that the prisons in India continue to be rather medieval in their functioning, the Uttarakhand High Court last week observed that it is high time that Jails are transported from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age.

The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma was hearing a plea, wherein the petitioners submitted that the State of Uttarakhand has failed to enact any policy or rules with regard to premature release of convicted prisoners, after they have completed 14 years of the sentence.

However, the Court further noted,

"The conditions of the jails in the State is a cause of concern as the entire jail population, whether under trial or convicted prisoners, are under judicial custody."

Therefore, the Court expressed its desire to know not only about the physical condition of the jails throughout the State, but also about the reformative techniques being used to reform the prisoners.

The Court also stated,

"The Court would like to know the sanctioned strength of the jail department, the working strength of the department and the vacancies that continued to exist, if any, in the jail department. This Court would also like to know the budgetary allocation for the jail department."

The Court also observed that repeatedly the Apex Court has prescribed guidelines and has made recommendations for the improvement of the prison system in India.

Significantly, the Court remarked,

"It is imperative that the under-trials are weaned away from the criminal way of life, and the convicted prisoners are reformed to the extent that they can be brought back to society as contributory members of the society. Thus, the entire set up of the prison department needs to be reformed and resurrected."

Hence, in this backdrop, the Court directed the Director General of Prison, to submit a complete report, on the points mentioned in the Order.

The said report has been directed to be submitted on or before 23rd March 2021 and the matter has been listed for 24th March 2021.

In related news, the Allahabad High Court recently pulled up the UP Government for its failure to comply with the mandate of Sections 432 (Power to suspend or remit sentences) and 433 (Power to commute sentence) of the CrPC.

A Division Bench comprising of Justices Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Gautam Chowdhary held that the provisions are mandatory in nature and the Government has a bounden duty to consider remission under Section 432/ commuting sentence after 14 years under Section 433 and 434 of the Code.

"We find that in the State of U.P. even after 14 years of incarceration does not even send the matter to the Magistrate for re-evaluation the cases for remission as per mandate of Sections 432 and 433 of Cr.P.C. and as held by Apex Court in catena of decisions even if appeals are pending in the High Court," the Bench said at the outset while hearing the Criminal Jail Appeal of a rape accused who suffered incarceration for 20 years.

'Prosecutrix Testimony Not Reliable': Allahabad High Court Acquit Rape Accused After 20 Yrs In Jail, Appeal Remained Defective For 16 Years

Recently, expressing its displeasure over the fact that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power of commuting the life sentence of an accused, the Allahabad High Court last month directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to revaluate cases for remission after 14 years of incarceration (even if appeals are pending before the High Court).

The Bench of Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Gautam Chowdhary also directed the Registrar General to place the matter before the Chief Justice so that it could be ensured that those who are in jail for more than 10 or 14 years get their appeal heard which are mainly jail appeals.

It may be noted that in the year 2018, the Supreme Court had constituted a three-member committee headed by former SC Judge Justice Amitava Roy to look into issues of reforms in prison administration and prison management.

The Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms will also comprise of Inspector General of Police, Bureau of Police Research and Director General (Prisons) Tihar Jail as its members.

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