Bombay High Court: While addressing several important issues related to the deplorable condition of prison cells and absence of adequate number of jails with sufficient amenities and space, the Division Bench of A.S. Oka, and A.A. Sayed, JJ., issued direction to the State Government to carry out several prison reforms so as to improve the conditions of the jails.
The present petition came before the Court to challenge the communication dated 24th August 2015 issued by the Jail Superintendent of Yervada Central Prison to the President of the Pune Bar Association, which stated that the members of the Bar will be permitted to meet their clients in Yervada Central Prison between 9.00 a.m. to 10.a.m and 3.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m. Also the petitions highlighted the sorry state of affairs in the in Yervada Central Prison including the issue of the lack of proper facilities provided to the Prisoners to meet their relatives and Advocates.
Perusing the reports of the Judicial Officer appointed to review the state of prisons in Yeravada Jail and Arthur Road Jail in Pune and Mumbai respectively and Women’s and District Prison at Byculla, wherein it was stated that how the prisons lack in basic facilities like absence of separate toilets and bathrooms for male and female prisoners; bad quality of the food served and lack of beds for emergency services in the jail hospital and overcrowding of jails etc., the Court issued the following directions which must be brought to implementation by the Government within 3 months from the date of the judgment:
* State Government shall modify the impugned communication dated 24th August 2015 issued by the Superintendent of Yervada Jail.
* The State Government shall undertake immediate exercise of finding out Government lands where additional Prisons can be constructed in the Cities of Mumbai and Pune.
* State Government shall take a decision on the issue of number of toilets and bathrooms required in each existing Jail. The State Government shall ensure that separate bathrooms are made available to the women prisoners for taking bath in privacy so as to maintain the dignity of women prisoners and thereby protecting their fundamental right of privacy and dignity. The State Government must immediately order to construct sufficient number of additional toilets, and repair the dilapidated bathrooms in the Jails all over State.
* The State Government shall provide modern facilities to enable family members/relatives to meet the prisoners in all the Jails in the State including the aforesaid three Jails. The Government must also provide for Modern Audio System so that the prisoners and the persons interviewing the prisoners are clearly audible to each other.
* The State Government shall appoint a permanent Committee of Social Workers and Dietitians to make surprise visits to all Jails for testing the quality and quantity of food served to the prisoners as well as the cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchens in the Jails.
* The State Government shall make necessary arrangements to ensure that the women prisoners are able to meet their minor children. Also the Government must make arrangements for the benefit of the children staying with their mother.
* Principal Judge of the City Civil & Sessions Court at Mumbai or the Principal District Judge at Pune shall nominate Judicial Officers to visit the said Jails and to inspect the Jails in the context of implementation of the directions.
[Jan Adalat v. State of Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 239, decided on 01.03.2017]