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Uttarakhand High Court Issues Slew Of Directions For Prison Reforms In View Of 'Horrifying Conditions Of Jails In State'

Sparsh Upadhyay
15 Dec 2021 4:33 AM GMT
Uttarakhand High Court Issues Slew Of Directions For Prison Reforms In View Of Horrifying Conditions Of Jails In State
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Perusing the affidavit filed by the state government on the conditions of jail in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court, taking note of the horrifying situation and conditions of the jails, last week issued a slew of directions for the state government regarding prison reforms.The directions have come from the Bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Narayan Singh...

Perusing the affidavit filed by the state government on the conditions of jail in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court, taking note of the horrifying situation and conditions of the jails, last week issued a slew of directions for the state government regarding prison reforms.

The directions have come from the Bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Narayan Singh Dhanik while perusing the affidavits filed by Secretary (Home), and the Inspector General of Prisons, Uttarakhand pursuant to the order of Court.

Perusing the photographs and related material filed by the state, the Court went on to state that the conditions of the jails in the State are shocking beyond belief and that The State seems to have forgotten its pious and constitutional duty towards the jail inmates.

"A bare perusal of all photographs submitted with the affidavit clearly reveals that we continue to treat our prisoners as 'subjects', and 'not as citizens'...the State has forgotten the fact that we are an independent nation for the last seventy-five years, where we are no longer dealing with the 'subjects of the British crown', but we are concerned with our own citizens," the Court sternly remarked.

Considering the horrible conditions of the prisons in the State, the Court issued the following directions to the State Government:-

  • The State Government shall not only improve the conditions of the existing jails, but shall also ensure that new jails are constructed in an expeditious manner.
  • An Open Air Camp, on the Rajasthan Model, should be constructed in the Garhwal Region, preferably either in Haridwar or Dehradun district. While constructing the Open Air Camp in the Garhwal Region, the Open Air Camp at Sitarganj, namely Sampoornanand Open Air Camp, should also be reconstructed on the Rajasthan Model.
  • The State Government shall provide sufficient budget for the maintenance of the jails, which are presently operating in the State.
  • The facilities being provided in the jails, namely the kitchen, needs to be modernized, and be up to date. The bathrooms need to be redone, and renovated. Factories need to be established in order to upgrade the skills of the prisoners. Better medical facilities, including permanent Doctors, male nurses, female nurses, gynecologist where the jails have female prisoners, need to be ensured on a war footing.
  • The 407 vacancies in different cadres need to be filled up as expeditiously as possible, and preferably within a period of six months from today. In case the UKSSSC finds it difficult to do so, then the State Government is directed to take a strict action against it. For, the Commission cannot abdicate its responsibility of recruiting sufficient staff. Needless to say, the jail department cannot be run until and unless it is given complete staff to look after the large population of the jails.
  • The State Government is also directed to consider establishing of District Jails in the six districts, which are presently without any jails.
  • The State Government is, hereby, directed to construct a new Judicial Lockup at Lohaghat with all modern amenities; it is further directed to ensure that the present Judicial Lockup at Lohaghat is completely renovated and a separate kitchen is provided for cooking of the food.
  • The State Government should grant the budget requested by the Jail Department. The State Government needs to realize that if sufficient number of factories and industries are introduced, as have been introduced in Cherlapally Central Jail in Hyderabad, not only the skill upgradation of prisoners is guaranteed, not only a livelihood is guaranteed to the prisoners after their release, most importantly the jails become an economic center of productivity. It is no secret that Cherlapally Central Jail in Hyderabad produces all the wood and steel furniture required by the Government of Telangana. It has petrol pumps, which are operated outside the Cherlapally Central Jail by the convicted prisoners. Even the women jail has a confectionery, which operates and caters to the confectionery needs of the people of Hyderabad.
  • This Court hereby constitutes a Committee comprising of Mr. V.K. Singh, former IG (Prison), Telangana, as the Chairman; Prof. Vijay Raghavan, TISS Mumbai; and Prof. Murali Karnam, NALSAR, Hyderabad. The Committee is directed to inspect all the Jails of the State and to make recommendations, firstly, with regard to the enhancement of the infrastructure of the Jails and with regard to improving the amenities available in the Jails for the benefit of the jail inmates. Secondly, the Committee shall also recommend the necessary laws, which need to be enacted or promulgated for the benefit of the jail inmates. The Committee would submit their recommendations to the State Government within a period of three months. The State is duty bound to carry out their recommendations within a period of six months thereafter.
  • The prisoners of this State cannot be left to languish in what was described by Dante in his book "The Divine Comedy" as hell. We have to realize that the prisoners are as much part of our society, of our State as free citizens are. Therefore, the State cannot abdicate its constitutional responsibilities towards the prison population.
  • Mr. Ranjeet Singh Sinha, the learned Secretary (Home), and Mr. Pushpak Jyoti, the learned Inspector General of Prisons, Uttarakhand, are directed to inform this Court, on a monthly basis, about the progress being made with regard to the implementation of the directions issued by the Court.

The Registry has been directed to list this case on Wednesday of every third week of each month. Now, the matter would next be heard on January 12, 2022.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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