Delay on Jail Manual | HC seeks appearance of Pr Secy Home if govt fails to file status report

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The High Court has directed J&K’s Principal Secretary Home department to remain present in person before it on 17 February 2021 if the government failed to file status report on the amended Jail Manual before the court.

A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta issued the direction after senior additional advocate

general B A Dar while seeking adjournment of the case submitted that the Jail Manual was at the last stage of finalization.

The bench was hearing on its own motion Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to safeguard rights of inmates, in keeping with the amended Jail Manual, lodged in jails of Jammu and Kashmir

“Inasmuch as this matter has been pending in this court for over two years now, it is undisputed that the existing Jail Manual requires to be urgently looked into which exercise is stated to have been undertaken and amendments have been made,” the  Court said.

The Court directed the government counsel to file the latest status report regarding the Jail Manual within eight weeks failing which, it said, the Principal Secretary Home Department would remain personally present before the Court on the next date of hearing.

Notably, on April 19, 2019, the High Court was informed by the state counsel that delay in the finalization of the Jail Manual was because of the preoccupation of the Department of Home with polling in the State then.

The formal meeting for finalising the Manual, the Sr AAG had said, could not be completed because of this reason. He had, however, assured the court that the finalization of the Jail Manual was nearly complete and the same would be placed before it by May 14 last year.

Meanwhile, T M Shamsi, Special Counsel appearing for the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh sought adjournment on the ground that the Government of Ladakh was taking serious examination of the Jail Manuals of other States and UTs before finalizing the Jail Manual which would be applicable in the UT of Ladakh.

On his request the court listed the plea for hearing on February 17, 2021.