Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed the Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar to compile within two weeks a list of undertrials, including juveniles, who have not been produced before court on the listed hearing of their case, so that the High Court can take action for non-compliance of the directions it has already passed.
Hearing a public interest litigation on “Inhuman Conditions in Prisons” filed by the High Court Bar Association, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe passed directions to Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar, Mohd Akram Choudhary, after senior counsel Mian Qayoom informed the court that the jail visit report filed by District Judge Srinagar has stated that undertrials including juveniles have not been produced before court in some cases. The petition made further reference to complaints in this regard by undertrials lodged in jails in other districts.
After hearing the senior counsel, the division bench asked for a list of such cases, “to enable this court to take action for non-compliance of the directions.”
“The compliance report be filed before the bench within two weeks,” the court ordered.
The court also directed the Judicial Registrar to compile status reports received from various Principal District Judges. The court impressed upon district judges to periodically visit jails for inspection and file their reports.
The court remarked that the interest of justice merits that such reports are submitted online to the Registry of this court by the judicial officers. “We therefore direct the Central Project Coordinator (CPC) of e-courts attached to this court to take steps for the development of appropriate software at the earliest so that proper scrutiny of the compliance can be effectively conducted,” the court said.
On the previous hearing, the court had directed all district judges to visit jails in their respective jurisdiction every two months.
“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 the hearing of their cases is listed,” the court had said.
The reports have been sought to ascertain the status of the nine issues referred by the Supreme Court regarding the maintenance of jail inmates. These 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 undertrials in consonance with the Supreme Court directions.