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"Absolutely Vague In It's Contents": Uttarakhand HC Questions Affidavit Showing Incomplete Details Of Prison Conditions, Asks For More Detailed Affidavit

Nupur Thapliyal
4 April 2021 8:40 AM GMT
Absolutely Vague In Its Contents: Uttarakhand HC Questions Affidavit Showing Incomplete Details Of Prison Conditions, Asks For More Detailed Affidavit
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The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday called the contents as "absolutely vague" of the affidavit filed by Inspector General of Prisons in a plea seeking reformation and resurrection of entire prison system in the State of Uttarakhand. The PIL was filed by the petitioners raising the issue of failure on the part of State to enact any policy or rules with regards to premature...

The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday called the contents as "absolutely vague" of the affidavit filed by Inspector General of Prisons in a plea seeking reformation and resurrection of entire prison system in the State of Uttarakhand. The PIL was filed by the petitioners raising the issue of failure on the part of State to enact any policy or rules with regards to premature release of convicting prisoners, after they have completed 14 years of sentence.

The division bench comprising of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma had vide order dated 3rd March 2021 directed the Director General of Prisons to file a report on the following issues:

1. Physical condition of the jails throughout the State

2. Reformative techniques being used to reform the prisoners

3. Sanctioned strength of the jail department and the working strength of the department 

4. Vacancies that continued to exist in the jail department

5. Budgetary allocation for the jail department

In view of the compliance of the said order, the Inspector General of Prisons filed an affidavit highlighting the aspects as inquired by the Court. However, the Court after duly perusing the affidavit, observed thus:

"Bare perusal of the affidavit clearly reveals that the affidavit is shorn off concrete details. It is absolutely vague in its content."

The observation came after the Bench noted that the affidavit was incompletely filed without touching or highlighting various aspects as asked by the Court in detail.

Incomplete Details About Prison Reformation

1. No Mention of Training Halls and Shed details

While noting that the affidavit discloses the details about facilities being provided in different jails in the State, the Court observed that failed to mention the details of the number of training halls and sheds available in District Jail, Haridwar. 

"Although, he claims that there is a skill development programme, the exact nature and the content of the programme has not been revealed." The Court observed.

2. On the Proposal of Installation of CCTVs in Jails

On the issue of proposal of installing CCTV cameras in every jail, the affidavit mentioned that first phase of installation had already begun in Dehradoon, Haridwar jails. However, the Court noted that the affidavit failed to mention as to when the said phase begun.

The Court therefore opined thus:

"The present status of the first phase? When the second phase would begin? And the time frame required for ensuring that CCTV cameras are installed in all the jails. The critical information is conspicuously missing from the affidavit." 

3. On Reformative Techniques Used in Jails

Furthermore, the Court addressed the point of reformative techniques used in jails as mention in the affidavit. According to the IGP's affidavit, it was mentioned that the training was being provided to the inmates with regards to stitching, carpentering, powerloom, nursery / gardening under the Kaushal Vikas Yojana.

The Court noted that although the affidavit finds mention of the yojana, it clearly misses out the details as to whether such yojana was being implemented in all the jails across the State, if yes, in which jails.

4. On Imparting Distance Education, Training and Education in Jails

Noting that the affidavit states that distance education by IGNOU and NIOS was being imparted in jails, the Court observed that "The affidavit does not mention, whether the education being imparted by these two organizations is being imparted on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? And education in which subject is being imparted by these two organizations?"

On the aspect of training and education inside the jails, the Court observed that the affidavit failed to mention the details as regards to the specific area of training being imparted. 

"Whether it is the training in academic area, or in technical area, or vocational area? Moreover, there is no indication whether the volunteers of Dev Sanskriti University are the students, or the faculty members of the said University." The Court said.

Observing that the basic course of Art of Living was being conducted by Live Telecast in jails, the Court went ahead to inquire as to whether Shri Ravi Shankar himself conducted the said training or whether it was done by his devotees or trained personnel.

5. On Grave Vacancies in Jail Department

Highlighting the issue of vacancies in jail department, the affidavit stated that the working strength of the said department was 624 against the sanctioned strength of 1030 posts.

"However, he has not mentioned as to how the said vacancies are scheduled to be filled up? And the time period it would take to fill up these larger vacancies." The Court said.

6. On the Issue of Overcrowding in Jails

Lastly, touching upon the aspect of overcrowding in jails, the affidavit stated that there was a grave problem of overcrowding in almost all the jails in the State.

"District Jail, Haridwar has capacity of 840, whereas presently it houses 1328 prisoners; likewise, sub-jail, Haldwani, was constructed for housing merely 382 prisoners. But presently, it houses 1756 prisoners. According to Mr. Anshuman, the total capacity of all the jails is for housing 3540 prisoners, whereas presently 6608 prisoners are being housed. Thus, obviously the problem of overcrowding stares all of us in our face." The Court noted.

However, at this juncture, the Court pointed out that the affidavit was unclear on the aspect of when the three jails were sanctioned, the status of their construction and their capacities thereof.

"Surprisingly, while dealing with the inmate population, Mr. Anshuman does not reveal the number of under-trials, and number of convicted prisoners. Moreover, he does not reveal the basis of classification of the under-trials, and the convicted prisoners." The court observed at the outset.

Therefore, in view of the above Incomplete details provided by the IGP in his affidavit, the Court directed him to file a "more detailed and clear" affidavit on the points so highlighted and further listed the matter on 19th April 2021.

Click Here To Read Order

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