Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Friday directed all principal district judges, who have not submitted their jail visit reports so far, to visit the jails and file reports before court within three days.
The court also directed Registrar General to seek explanations from district judges about the several pending reports of jails visits across the state.
Hearing a litigation on jail inmates, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice M K Hanjura while hearing suo-moto proceedings directed the Registrar General to seek report from all the district judges as to whether they have conducted periodical visit to the jails of their jurisdiction or not.
Meanwhile the court was apprised that the visiting report on behalf of district judges of Pulwama, Ramban, Rajouri, Kathua, and Reasi have been submitted. The court directed the rest of the district judges to submit their report within three days.
The court remarked that jail visits should be carried after every two months so that the issues related to jails can be solved.
“All the district judges are under command to visit the jails of their respective jurisdiction after every two months,” the court said.
Direction is already passed to the authorities to ensure that the inmates of the jail who are facing trial in different courts are produced before the court whenever their hearing of the cases is listed.
The reports have been sought to ascertain the status of the nine issues referred by the Supreme Court regarding the maintenance of jail inmates. The 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 Supreme Court directions. 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. According to Section 436A 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.