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Punjab And Haryana HC Issues Directions To Ensure Proper Functioning Of Prisons [Read Judgment]

Akshita Saxena
3 Nov 2019 8:55 AM GMT
Punjab And Haryana HC Issues  Directions To Ensure Proper Functioning Of Prisons [Read Judgment]
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has passed a series of mandatory directions to ensure that the prisons function properly and that humane living conditions are provided to the cell inmates in the State.

The interim order has been made in a petition filed by one Dr. Swarandeep Singh, who came across grave irregularities in the functioning of jails, during his visits to the Central Jail, Ludhiana. Singh had requested for an independent probe into the functioning of jails in the State of Punjab and to provide basic amenities to Jail inmates, such as adequate medical aid, proper food to eat, etc.

Singh had alleged:

  1. Food provided to the jail inmates was of very poor quality and the ration provided to the jail authorities never reached the jail inmates.
  2. The food was cooked in unhygienic conditions; the kitchen had no proper ventilation and the persons working therein suffered from number of diseases.
  3. There was no proper supply of medicines to ill prisoners and the cartons of medicines coming to the jail were empty.
  4. The jail inmates suffering from contagious disease were kept in the same cell where other jail inmates were lodged.
  5. Serious sick persons were not admitted in the hospital but were kept in cells. Moreover, jail inmates had to pay exorbitant prices for the drugs and injections that were available in jail openly. Consequently, many inmates died in jails because of lack of medical aid.
  6. A sum of Rs. 15,000/- was charged from prisoners, who wanted to be admitted in the hospital even though they were not sick. To perpetrate the same, even the petitioner was pressurized to admit healthy jail inmates.

In view thereof and based on the suggestions given by a Special Investigation Team, constituted by the State government to look into the grievances raised by the Petitioner, the bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu directed the State to:

  1. Maintain proper ventilation and hygienic conditions in the kitchens and improve the existing kitchens with all modern facilities, including automatic chapati making machines.
  2. Provide sufficient food to all the jail inmates as per the diet prescribed by the dietician through the office of CMO and serve the same in proper crockery.
  3. Keep inmates suffering from contagious disease separate from other jail inmates.
  4. Shift jail inmates to the hospitals from the jail on account of illness only on the basis of certification of CMO concerned.
  5. Maintain medical record of the inmates and keep them in safe custody to ensure that fundamental and legal rights of the jail inmates are preserved. The court further directed the CMOs to ensure proper supply of medicines and its distribution to the jail inmates.
  6. Provide sufficient number of CCTV cameras to the District Jail, Ludhiana and other jails in the state, for security of jail premises. The court further directed the Superintendent/ Deputy Superintendent Jail to ensure that CCTV cameras are in working condition.
  7. Ensure hygienic conditions in the jails by deploying sufficient number of safai karamchari. The court further directed the Superintendent of Jails to provide proper clothes including blankets, quilts in the winter and bed-sheets in the summer, toiletries and, neat and clean towels to the jail inmates.
  8. Install mobile jammers in all the Central / District Jails in the State of Punjab within three months to stop illegal communication and malpractices.

The Petitioner had also alleged that any inmate, who spoke against the jail authorities, was tortured and rendered quiet. In this regard, the court said that in case of physical violence /torture, inmates could send communication by any mode to the Registrar General of the high court. It further directed the state to,

"Ensure that no inmate in the jail suffers physical or mental torture. The Superintendent of Jail/ Deputy Superintendent of Jail shall be personally responsible for the safety of inmates in the jail. The Secretary, Legal Services Authority, Punjab, shall visit every jail in the State of Punjab fortnightly, to ensure that no jail inmate is tortured by the jail authorities…"

Allegedly, the Petitioner had even been attacked by certain prisoners. In this behalf, the state informed that an FIR had been registered against suspected prisoners and the proceedings thereof were pending.

Further, as per the Affidavit filed by State, the following steps had also been taken to ensure proper functioning of jails:

  1. Computerization of inventory of medicines had been started and the e-prison software was being monitored and updated by a dedicated team of jail staff.
  2. Specialist doctors from the Health Department visited the jail regularly and a duty chart in that behalf was displayed in the jail hospital. Steps had also been taken to ensure that Doctors and para-medical staff perform their duties as per the Jail Manual.
  3. Two jail guards had been permanently deputed for the security of the doctors and paramedical staff.
  4. Vocational training, regular yoga and spiritual programs were being conducted for jail inmates.
  5. Hand Held Metal Detector, Door Frame Metal Detector and Walkie Talkies had been put in place for stopping illegal communication and other mal-practices inside jail premises.
  6. Five RO plants were installed in the jail and colour TVs and Fans were already provided.

The matter will next be taken up on February 12, 2020.

[Read Order Here]

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