Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed J&K Government to stop filling jails with under trial persons beyond the capacity of the jails. The order came after the court went through the report filed by state legal services authority.
The court observed that there is a need of better management of jails to prevent overcrowding.
The SLSA report presented on Tuesday pointed that in district jail Amphala Jammu with a capacity to incarcerate 398 persons has 559 inmates. In Kot Balwal Jail, the capacity is 735 but only 409 prisoners have been kept there.
Also in Anantnag jail, 146 prisoners are kept while the capacity of the jail is just 64. In Udhampur 283 prisoners have been jailed while the capacity is limited to 283. Srinagar central jail 377 prisoners have been kept in a space meant for 364 prisoners.
The total capacity of jails in Jammu and Kashmir is 2675 while as total number of prisoners is 2638.
Hearing a PIL on jail inmates, the division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked management of jails be looked into by district judges and jail authorities.
“The report gives a complete picture of management of jails and courts,” Chief Justice said. The court directed SLSA to point out the deficiencies in the next hearing and direction was also passed to government counsel B A Dar to ascertain the facts regarding number of inmates within two weeks.
The report has been sought to know the status of the nine issues referred by the Supreme Court regarding the maintenance of jail inmates. These nine issues are: overcrowding in jails, delay in trial, torture and ill treatment, neglect of health and hygiene, sub-standard food and inadequate clothing, prison vices, no means of communication, streamlining of jail visits, and management of open-air prisons.
In 2014, the High Court had mobilised judicial officers across Jammu and Kashmir to visit every prison in their district to identify and release under-trials in consonance with the directions given by the Supreme Court. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court on September 5, 2014, ordered the release of all under-trial prisoners who had already served half the term of sentence for the crimes they were accused of, except for those whose offence merited the death penalty.
As per the verdict passed by a three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, sessions judges, chief judicial magistrates and magistrates were to start their jail visits from October 1, 2014 to identify and release under-trials.
Reports were to be filed to the respective High Courts, which were to pass them on to the Supreme Court. Pursuant to these directions, the JK High Court’s Registrar General issued a circular on November 12, 2014, asking all the magistrates, CJMs and session judges to hold one sitting a week in each jail or prison to identify such under-trials.
The judicial officers, as per the circular, were asked to pass appropriate orders in the jail for release of such under-trial prisoners, after complying with the procedure prescribed under Section 436A of the CrPC. Section 436A says that under-trial prisoners who suffered detention during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial for one-half of their maximum imprisonment, should be released by the court on personal bond with or without sureties.