Court Says, Prisons in Kashmir Over Crowded 

Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday observed that there was “glaring situation of overcrowding” in various jails in Jammu and Kashmir.

A division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey made the observation after going through the reports of State Legal Services Authority and Director General Prisons on the number prisoners in jails and their intake capacity. 

The court also observed that information provided by both the authorities varies so far as some jails were concerned and directed them to find out the deficiencies and submit a fresh report.

One of the reports said there were 146 inmates in district jail Anantnag while its intake capacity is only 64. The Amphala jail of Jammu has intake capacity of 398 while as present there are 559 inmates.

In Udhampur district jail, 238 inmates are lodge while as its intake capacity was 234. The Court observed that these jails in Jammu can be regulated by shifting some inmates to Central jail Kotbalwal as there was low lodgement— 75 against the intake capacity of 409.

“You have to manage it. Create more jails or be liberal for bails,” the chief justice observed to state counsels.

The overcrowding of prisons in the Jammu and Kashmir is a long-standing problem that has seldom been addressed effectively.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation based on directions by the Supreme Court, in the case of – in Re Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons, wherein the apex court had observed that prisoners, like all human beings, deserve to be treated with dignity.

The top court had passed “some positive” directions and directed that the Under Trial Review Committee in every district should meet every quarter. The Secretary of the District Legal Services Committee should attend each meeting of the Under Trial Review Committee and follow up the discussions with appropriate steps for the release of undertrial prisoners and convicts who have undergone their sentence or are entitled to release because of remission granted to them.  The Undertrial Review Committee, it had said, should specifically look into aspects pertaining to effective implementation of Section 436 CrPC and Section 436-A CrPC so that undertrial prisoners are released at the earliest and those who cannot furnish bail bonds due to their poverty are not subjected to incarceration only for that reason. The Under Trial Review Committee will also look into issue of implementation of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 particularly with regard to first time offenders so that they have a chance of being restored and rehabilitated in society, it said. in all, the apex court identified nine issues – overcrowding; delay in trial; torture and ill-treatment; neglect of health and hygiene; insubstantial food and inadequate clothing; prison vices; deficiency in communication; streamlining of jail visits; management of open air prisons. 

Subsequently, the high court on previous hearing sought status report from Director General of Prisons and Member Secretary, State Legal Services Authority asking them to also indicate the number of persons who are, on an average, brought to jail every month and the number who are released from jail either on acquittal or on bail. 



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