Legal service authorities to report prison conditions within two weeks

The High Court on Wednesday directed Legal Service Authority to file reports about condition of prisons in all districts of Jammu and Kashmir within two weeks.
Legal service authorities to report prison conditions within two weeks
Representational Pic

The High Court on Wednesday directed Legal Service Authority to file reports about condition of prisons in all districts of Jammu and Kashmir within two weeks.   

Underscoring that no report from Kashmir province attesting the condition of jails was on record, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe asked the District Legal Services Authorities to ensure the reports are made after inspection of jails.         

The court requested advocate N A Beigh appearing for State Legal Services Authority to approach the Member Secretary, Legal Services Authority Delhi for a copy of the report and the draft finalised by it to enable examination of the same in Kashmir so as to overcome the shortcomings reflected in the report submitted by the amicus curie earlier after visiting the jails.   

Following the submission by amicus curie, G R Tantray that a 65-year-old prisoner was compelled to remain naked in the Central Jail Srinagar, the court asked District Legal Service Authority Srinagar to also report about the "incident".    

After registering the PIL on condition of jails for under-trial prisoners, the court in October last year had observed that "jails are not only for punishment but places of reform as well and there is a need of better management to prevent overcrowding in Jails of Jammu and Kashmir". 

The PIL before the bench relates the nine points that the Supreme Court has referred to it about the jail inmates of the state. 

In a landmark ruling, the apex court on September 5, 2014 had ordered releasing all under-trial prisoners who have already served half the term of their sentence except for those whose offence attracted death penalty. 

In 2014, the High Court had mobilised judicial officers across the state to visit every prison in their districts to identify and release under-trials in consonance with the directions by the apex court.

In keeping with the directions of a three-judge bench led by then Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, sessions judges, chief judicial magistrates and magistrates were to start jail visits from October 1, 2014 to identify under-trial prisoners for release.

The reports in this regard were to be filed to the respective State High Courts, which were to pass them on to the Supreme Court. 

Pursuant to directions, J&K high court's Registrar General had issued a circular on November 12, 2014 asking all the jurisdictional magistrates, CJMs and the session judges to hold one sitting in a week in each jail or prison to identify cases of those under trial prisoners who have completed half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for the offence under law for which the prisoner has been jailed.

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