Srinagar, Mar 1: The State High Court has directed all District Judges across the State to visit the jails to find out the condition of inmates and basic facilities provided to them and file the report before the court by next date of hearing.
Hearing a PIL filed by Bar Association, the direction has been passed after the Court was informed that despite previous orders no District Judge has visited the jail of their jurisdiction for a long time as they were supposed to have the visit after every two weeks.
Division Bench of Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Tashi Rabstan also directed the petitioner Bar Association to prepare a chart indicating therein as to what facilities are lacking in jails so that appropriate orders be passed to the authorities.
Petitioner counsel representing the Association argued the matter at length before the court and apprised it about all the issues which have been taken in the PIL and stressed his arguments mainly on non-visiting of District Judges to the jails of their jurisdiction as per court directions.
Counsel during his arguments informed the court as to what difficulties and hardships the jail inmates are facing in the jails. “They are not brought to the trial court for facing the trial on one pretext or other. Sometimes shortage of escort is the excuse or sometimes law & order is made excuse for not bringing them to attend the trial and as such cases are dragged on one pretext or other”, petitioner counsel submitted and added these kind of excuses on part of authorities make the detainees languishing in jails for lengthy time.
He further informed the court that detenues are lodged outside the Valley in order to prevent them to attend the trial court for facing trial. He submitted before the court that all the detenues be brought back to the Valley so that their families are able to meet them and as per the Supreme Court ruling their families be given two interviews within a week.
With regard to food, petitioner counsel submitted that when anybody meets these detenues, then no food item or any kind of eatable is being allowed by the jail authorities for the detenue.
He further added that as prescribed in jail manual a mini hospital be established in every jail. “To provide basic requirements to the jail inmate is his basic right in this regard petitioner counsel referred a letter to DB which is written by Justice R C Lahoti to Supreme Court which letter was treated as PIL referring the various issues about the jail inmates in the country including overcrowding, lack of living with dignity in jails etc”, petitioner counsel submitted.
He further added that like other States in the country there are jails in Valley also but these jails lack basic facilities like food, clothing, toilet, urinal as also medical facility.
With regard to trial facility, he informed the court that even prosecuting officers are not appointed in the courts and no medical facility, manpower (Doctor, Medical Assistant or Nurse) is available in jails and in some jails even a nursing orderly is not available.
“If any detenue is brought to the Court for trial then he is being kept hungry for whole day and no food is provided to him during court hours on the direction of circular passed by Registrar Vigilance. As such, counsel submitted that these issues need to be considered.
“Prepare a chart of these issues and who has to comply so that we direct for consideration of shortfalls”, DB said to petitioner counsel and ordered listing of the matter in first week of April.
Court earlier had said that District Judges have not made any personal visit to the jails and observed that without a personal visit, it will not be possible for the officer to furnish the authentic report to the Court and directed all Principal District & Sessions Judges to file the reports afresh after undertaking a visit to the jails.
The earlier report of Home Department filed by Additional Secretary to Government Home Department, Srinagar revealed that a meeting was called for removing various deficiencies like drinking water at Central Jail, Srinagar and non-availability of Ambulances in Jails, providing of a contingent of escort for full time to meet the emergency situation like ailment in the Central Jail, providing of services of B-Grade specialist or Assistant Surgeon to the inmates and arrangement for segregation of inmates in respective class as per the Jail Manual.
The Home department, the report showed, has also impressed upon all Jail Authorities to implement the directions issued by the High Court in letter and spirit and provide food to the inmates on time in the evening, the court observed.