JAMMU – Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Gita Mittal has said that efforts are on to connect all the jails in the state with courts through video conferencing to ensure speedy justice to the inmates.
She announced that meeting of lawyers with their clients in jails can take place on the eve of hearing of their cases and asserted that the focus is on clearing pending cases.
“Prisoners should not be deprived of the rights and facilities. Our effort should be to minimize their problems and remove the hurdles in ensuring speedy justice to them,” Justice Mittal said while speaking at a function at district jail in Amphalla here last evening.
The function was organized by the prisons department to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as part of its efforts to spread his message. It was also attended by Director General of Police, prisons, V K Singh and other senior police and civil officers.
The inmates and the police cultural troupe led by Sub-inspector Mushtaq Ahmad presented a colourful programme in front of the nearly 600 prisoners both men and women who are lodged in the jail.
Encouraging the inmates to take part in the programmes chalked out by the jail authorities for their betterment and rehabilitation, Justice Mittal said, “We will try our best to minimize your problems and also ensure that you get justice on time.
“We are continuously monitoring and making efforts to connect all jails with courts through a video link so that your cases do not get delayed due to lack of security escort. We are coordinating with every district so that your cases are heard without any delay,” she said.
She added that the focus is also on old cases pending for years so that they are taken to their logical conclusion.
The chief justice said she had conveyed to the prisons department to facilitate meeting of lawyers with their clients lodged in different jails on the eve of hearing of their cases as they do with other clients.
“We know those facing criminal cases might also have some civil cases involving their families. Land dispute, concern over the education of children, payment of rented accommodation, other problems with house owner. We are paying attention towards that as well,”she said.
Lauding the performance of the inmates and the police cultural team, Justice Mittal said she was stunned by the talented singers, dancers and musicians and hailed the efforts of the Jail superintendent Mirza Saleem Beig.
“You are highly talented and have the capability to achieve big in your lives,” she said referring to the performance by the inmates including a woman singer who appeared thrice on the podium singing a romantic duet and a solo Bollywood number besides participating in a dance with three other jail male inmates.
She said it is painful that most of the women prisoners are facing emotional issues as they are being left by their families and nobody is turning up to meet them. “Only a few lucky ones see their children and husbands visiting them in the jails. When someone is put into a prison he loses his freedom,” she said.
Shedding light on the teachings of Gandhi, she asked the inmates to introspect and set right the wrongs to become good citizens and help the society in a positive way.
Felicitating the Chief justice, the DGP prisons handed over a memento and a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi made by a jail inmate.
Impressed by the portrait, the chief justice said she will install the portrait in her office in Srinagar.
The DGP prisons said his department is doing its best to provide the best available facilities to the prisoners which includes newly launched inmate calling system and state of art interview rooms.
“There is a intake capacity of 2,810 prisoners in the state jails but an average figure has reached 3,600. We are trying to make optimum utilization of the space so that the inmates do not feel the pressure of crowding,” he told PTI.
Singh said there are a total of 587 prisoners in Amphalla jail and 675 inmates in central jail, Kotbalwal in Jammu.
Jail Superintendent Beig underlined various steps being taken in the prison for the welfare of the prisoners and improving prison administration.
He highlighted that the department is making efforts towards making jail self reliant and providing better facilities and training opportunities to the inmates.
Amphalla Jail Have Inmate Calling System
Kerala native Jatan, lodged in a jail in Jammu, heard the voice of his wife and minor daughter for the first time in nearly four years — thanks to the authorities introducing a first-of-its-kind prison inmate calling system, which allows prisoners to make long-distance calls.
He is facing charges under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and lodged in district jail Amphalla, which is the first prison in Jammu and Kashmir to get the facility along with modern interview rooms on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Gita Mittal inaugurated the facilities on Wednesday evening in presence of DGP (prisons) V K Singh and other senior civil and police officers. A total of 587 prisoners are lodged in Amphalla jail in the city.
Facing imprisonment thousands of kilometers away from his home town, Jatan was the first to utilise the inmate calling facility and he talked to his daughter who was just two months old when he was arrested in Jammu.
“My parents have visited me a few times over the past three-and-a-half years but this facility has reunited me with my wife and daughter, and I am very thankful to the prison authorities for providing such a facility to us,” Jatan told PTI after talking to his family for 10 minutes.
Jatan, who was working as a salesman at a jeweller shop in his city before his arrest, has now become a painter taking advantage of the efforts being made by the jail authorities for the reformation of inmates through different vocational training programmes and educational courses.
He said when Kerala was recently hit by floods, he was very much worried and the only contact with his family was through his lawyer but he too was not available all the time.
“With this facility, not only we can know the welfare of our families back home, but we can also contact our lawyer to know the progress of our cases,” Jatan said.
The DGP (prisons) said the inmate calling system was set up by Indus, a firm based in Ambala (Haryana), free of cost but the users would be charged an economical amount which will generate revenue for the firm.
“This is part of the continuous efforts to provide better facilities to the prisoners so that they come out as totally reformed persons and contribute to society and the nation in a positive way,” he said.
Singh said a prisoner can talk to two close relatives, a lawyer or a doctor for five minutes on each selected days but those involved in heinous cases, whether an undertrial or a convict, need special permission from the jail superintendent concerned otherwise the facility would not be made available to them or those showing misconduct in the jail.
About the new sound proof interview cabins, the DGP prisons said it is part of modernizing the interview rooms with the state-of-the-art facility to provide better environment to the inmates during their meeting with their relatives.
The state-of the-art technology was used to make the walls sound proof to eliminate noise disturbance during such meetings. The inmates and the visitor will share a cabin separated by a transparent glass and a simple iron grill. They will use telephone to talk with each other, while if a child is accompanying any visitor, there is a child friendly corners with toys, he said, adding that the chief justice of the high court had put forward this idea during a recent visit to Central Jail Srinagar.
He said district jail Amphalla was selected as the first location for the project which will be extended to two other locations — Central Jail Kotbalwal Jammu and the Central jail Srinagar — shortly.
We are also going to create a facility just like Tihar jail which has got various manufacturing units and recreation facility in the form of Tihar School of Art,” he said.
Welcoming the initiative, Justice Mittal said she felt proud of inaugurating the facilities which will restore the dignity and respect of the prisoners.
“Prisoners should not be deprived of his or her rights and facilities and our effort should be to minimize the problems and remove the hurdles in the way to ensure speedy trial of their cases,” she said.
Proprietor of Indus firm Mahi Paul said the finger print of the inmate along with telephone numbers of his close relatives are fed into the machine and a profile is set up which opens with the finger touch of the inmate.
After the finger touch, the machine identifies the prisoner and his name is highlighted on the screen. The telephone numbers, however, remain hidden for secrecy and flashes only when the prisoner wants to dial that number, he said adding the call gets disconnected automatically after the completion of the time duration.
He said such a facility is already available in various jails across the country, including Haryana and Punjab, and is a great success because it has not only helped the inmates to lower stress level but also brought down the rush of visitors to the jails.
“We are not charging anything for the machine and the prisoner is free whether he want to use the facility or not. Like the daily use articles which he or she gets from canteen or outside, we are providing our service at the rate of Rs 2 per call, he said.