Judges’ visit to Faridabad Jail leads to Supreme Court’s bid for Jail Reforms

Judges’ visit to Faridabad Jail leads to Supreme Court’s bid for Jail Reforms

Bar & Bench

Following the visit of two Supreme Court judges to an event at Faridabad, the Court has sought the assistance of Attorney General for India in relation to jail reforms.

On June 3 this year, Justices (retd.) AK Goel and UU Lalit were invited by the Haryana Legal Services Authority for an event at Faridabad. And what the two judges witnessed in the Faridabad Jail and Observation Home has now led to Supreme Court taking upon itself the responsibility to improve conditions and infrastructure in jails.

During their visit, Justices Goel and Lalit observed the following deficiencies, among others:

  • Lack of escort officers to accompany juveniles in conflict with the law to different courts, thus resulting in delay of enquiry proceedings. No video conferencing facility at these courts.
  • No policy for remission for persons of advance age and those suffering from ailments
  • Usage of mobile phones by unscrupulous inmates, in spite of CCTV cameras
  • Witnesses not being examined by courts, leisurely granting of adjournments, financially poor accused remaining in custody due to non-furnishing of bail bonds
  • Infants being held in custody along with mothers
  • Undertrials facing proceedings in different courts simultaneously
  • Many persons are in custody for default of payment of maintenance for long periods, on account of not having the means to do so

In their report, Justices Goel and Lalit noted that these issues arise not just in Faridabad, but in jails and observations homes across the country. With a view to addressing these issues, the judges made the following suggestions:

  • Compilation of prisoners rights should be available with all Judicial Officers and panel advocates of Legal Services Authorities, periodic training of panel advocates
  • Legal Services Authorities should ensure compliance of prisoners’ rights at the time of their visit to jails. District & Session Judge should monitor it at time of his monthly visit to the jail
  • Legal Services Authorities may be involved to check supply of Mobiles, intoxicants etc. in jails
  • Timely disposal of parole applications is very necessary. The concerned officer may be held personally responsible for causing delay. The District & Sessions Judge may be empowered to monitor the early disposal
  • There are incentives for early release of convicts depending upon their good behaviour. There is no such scheme for under-trial prisoners, particularly, who are in long custody. Some scheme should be formulated for such under-trial prisoners
  • Ensure regular visit of doctors to jails, particularly gynaecologists for female prisoners. Periodical medical camps and Yoga classes for inmates
  • Convicts aged 75 years and above should be separately categorised, for grant of remission, particularly in case of ill health
  • Review of those cases is required, in which person is in custody in family matters/cheque bounce cases
  • Female prisoners with child aged below 6 years should be specially categorised for welfare of the child. Some scheme like ‘2 years child care leave’ with breaks, up to two children only, may be considered
  • Monitoring of cases for speedy disposal

A report on the same was submitted to the Supreme Court by the District Judge, Faridabad. In his report, the District Judge mentioned various reasons for delayed trial and long incarceration of undertrial prisoners in jail.

In its order, the Bench of CJI Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud noted,

“Having perused the same, we are of the view, the situation cannot be treated to be confined to the jail at Faridabad and the lack of facilities and the impediments for speedy trials are to be dealt with throughout the country.”

For this purpose, the Court has sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal in the matter. Advocate RP Luthra will assist Venugopal. Advocate Gaurav Agrawal has been appointed as amicus curiae in the matter, which will now be heard on July 30.

Read the order:

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