SC concerned about prison-overcrowding; asks HCs to look into issue
Supreme Court has expressed concern about overcrowding in prisons across the country, in some cases beyond 150% of the capacity, and asked all the High Courts to consider the issue as it involves "violation of human rights". It requested Chief Justices of HCs to take up the matter as a suo motu writ petition, assisting the court as amicus curiae, in this regard.
Matter should be considered by each HC independently
The SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, "This matter should be considered by each High Court independently so that there is some sanity in overcrowding in prisons since it involves violation of human rights." It asked SC's Secretary General to send a copy of its order to Registrar-General of every HC for necessary steps and report back to it.
Authorities shows little interest in recruiting staffs in prisons: SC
SC also dealt with the issue of vacancy of staff in jails and observed that "little interest" was being shown by authorities and state governments in recruiting prison staff. Center informed SC that Women and Child Development Ministry was conducting a study through National Commission for Women and National Law University on women prisoners and their children. It would be completed by June 30.
Several steps taken to encourage open prisons: Center
The government said that the Ministry would look into the study and take necessary steps within three weeks. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on August 2. The Center also apprised the court that steps were being taken to encourage setting up of open prisons and a model uniform rules for the administration of open correctional institutions have already been framed.
Open prisons allow convict to work outside jail
Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with the society and reduce their psychological pressure. During the hearing, the amicus informed apex court that there were 63 open prisons across the country but the existing capacity was not being fully utilized.
SOP was ready for under-trial review committees
Regarding under-trial review committees, the bench was informed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) that a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the committee was ready. These committees, set up in every district, recommended the release of under-trials and convicts who have undergone their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail due to bail or remission granted to them.
SOP would be finalized by June 30
"As soon as the SOP is finalized, it should be circulated to all the district judges and under-trial review committees for implementation. If and when there are some constraints in the implementation of the SOP, it should be brought to the notice of NALSA so that necessary or corrective measures can be taken," the court said. SOP would be finalized by June 30.
Bureau of Police Research and Development's training manuals for prison-officers
The bench was also told that the Bureau of Police Research and Development has prepared some training manuals for prison officers and prison warders. The court, which is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country, had earlier passed a slew of directions over unnatural deaths in jails and on prison reforms across India.