SRINAGAR: Inmates, mostly under-trial prisoners, in Central Jail Srinagar are denied speedy trial on account of non-availability of police escort and are forced to use stinking and dilapidated bathrooms, Kashmir High Court Bar Association said on Monday.
In a report released following the visit of two-member team of the lawyers body comprising its president Mian Qayoom and general secretary Bashir Sidiq on March 6, the KHCBA said that there are 365 inmates including 236 undertrial prisoners whose cases are pending in Srinagar, Pulwama, Budgam, Bandipora. Two of them are admitted in a Psychiatric Hospital Srinagar, for treatment and one is on interim bail. Besides, there are 38 under-trial prisoners whose cases are also pending in different courts at Srinagar, Budgam, Anantnag, Pulwama, Bandipora and Charar-i-Sharief.
There are also 17 under-trial foreign nationals, out of whom one is resident of Netherlands and the rest belong to different parts of Pakistan.
There are also 39 convict prisoners, out of whom three have been awarded death sentence by Sessions Judge Kupwara and Sessions Judge Leh and 20 have been sentenced to life imprisonment while the remaining have been awarded different sentences by the courts ranging upto 10 years and fine.
Apart from it, there are 12 detainees under detention for the last more than three months and out of whom three are sexagenarians—Abdul Rashid Wani, Bashir Ahmad Sofi and Ameer-Hamzah Shah. “Almost all the inmates to whom the Bar team talked to said that they are not being produced before the courts for trial of their cases because of the non-availability of police escort,” a spokesman of the lawyers body said in the report. The team had visited the jail in compliance to the directions by the court. “They stated by them that DPL Anantnag, DPL Sopore, DPL Kupwara, DPL Bandipora, DPL Baramulla and DPL Handwara are not providing escort to the Central Jail authorities for their production before the court, as a result of which their cases are adjourned by the courts without conducting any substantial proceedings therein,” the report said, highlighting that because of non-production of the inmates in the courts, their right of fair and a speedy trial has been denied to them, “which has caused and is causing serious prejudice to them.”
Those of the inmates who have been sentenced to life imprisonment in militancy related cases stated that their cases are also not being put up before the Review Board, the report said. They also stated that in terms of Explanation appended to Section 3 of J&K Prisoners Act, a sentence of imprisonment for life has to mean a sentences of imprisonment for 20 years only, but most of them having already completed 20 years’ imprisonment they have not been released. They also stated that in terms of Rule 46.18 of the Manual for Superintendence and Management of Jail, the sentence of all prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for life or to more than 20 years in the aggregate or imprisonment for life and imprisonment for terms exceeding in the aggregate 20 years shall, for the administrative purpose of calculation of the normal date of release, be deemed to be sentenced imprisonment for 20 years, after the completion of which they are entitled to be released, but they are not released by the jail authorities under the instructions of police authorities and as such they as of now are in unlawful custody.
“It was also stated that neither there is any physician specialist in the jail nor there is any x-ray technician, ECG technician or dental technician available in the jail. They also stated that there is also no x-ray plant or a USG equipment available in the jail, though under rules Central Jail Srinagar is supposed to be a mini hospital under Jail rules.”
They also stated that the ambulance provided to the jail is an Omni Van, which by no stretch of imagination can be equated with an ambulance. They also stated that they immediately need a physician specialist, x-ray technician, ECG technician, dental technician as well as an x-ray plant, USG machine as also an ambulance, so that the inmates who are not taken to the hospital receive proper treatment in the jail itself.
The inmates also stated that the High Court in 2014 had directed the jail authorities that frisking of female visitors by female CRPF personnel should be stopped forthwith, because it was a violation of section 41 of the Prisoners Act and the Circular issued on 06.12.2013, but the jail authorities have not stopped the frisking of female visitors by female CRPF personnel, which besides being violative of the orders of the Court is causing unnecessary harassment to the female visitors of these inmates. The Bar team was also informed by the inmates that all the bathrooms in the jail are stinking and are in a dilapidated condition. “They stated that no steps are being taken by the jail authorities to repair those bathrooms, which are a source of annoyance to all of them. They said that the condition of these bathrooms is such that they are unusable, but there being no other alternate arrangement, they are forced to use these bathrooms at the cost of their privacy and health,” the report added.