SC Concerned About Children Of Women Prisoners, Moots Framing Of A Pragmatic Policy [Read Order]
The Supreme Court expressed concern about the children of women prisoners observing that it is an extremely serious issue.
The bench was told by the Amicus curiae appointed in Re-Inhuman Conditions In 1382 Prisons, that he visited a prison in Faridabad, Haryana where he learnt that children of women prisoners who are below six years of age are not allowed to leave the prisons.
“This is hardly conducive to their well-being and health.”, the bench remarked.
It also observed: “There is another category of such children who have crossed the age of six years and they are released from prison, but there is nothing to indicate how such children are looked after. Surely, these children cannot be left to fend for themselves just because they are six years of age when their mother is in prison. The third category of children are minors above six years of age and whose mother is in custody. Such children also need to be looked after since their father or any next of kin, etc. may not be there to look after them.”
The bench also suggested appointment of a Committee to look into this issue in great depth with the assistance of psychologists, social scientists and experts in different fields so that some pragmatic policy is framed for looking after such children.
The Supreme Court, during the last hearing, had issued several directives with regard to overcrowding in prisons and under trial review committee etc.
Perusing the office report, the bench observed that all the High Courts have initiated suo motu petitions or are already dealing with the petitions relating to overcrowding in prisons. It also noted that the Under Trial Review Committees have been set up in every district of the country or are at least expected to be set up in every district of the country.
The bench also noted the submission of amicus curiae that there are several States where the Board of Visitors has not been appointed.
In this regard, it observed: “We have been informed that even in Tihar Jail, Delhi, the appointment of Board of Visitors has not been notified. In any case, nonofficial members are not included in Board of Visitors. It is for this reason that perhaps the conditions in prisons are pathetic and prompted a former Chief Justice of India to write to this Court to look into this issue. The appointment of Board of Visitors that regularly visits jails is an absolute necessity and it is also provided for in the Model Prison Manual prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. We do not see why an acceptable document prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs should not be followed by the Prison Departments. We are informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs has also issued advisories on appointment of visitors, but obviously they are not being followed.”
Further hearing in this regard is scheduled on 8th August.
Read the Order Here