Supreme Court on Friday criticizes the State Government and Union Territories for overcrowding of prisoners in the Indian jails. It is noticed that more than 1300 prisoners were kept in the jails exceeding the capacity to the extent of more than 600 percent.

Supreme Court said that there is no point of keeping prisoners in jails if you cannot keep them properly. We should release them.


Under Trial Review Committees dismal Performance

The Supreme Court Assistant informed them about the conditions of prisoners in jails. According to their report overcrowding of prisoners is above 150 percent and for one case it is exceeding to more than 600 percent. According to the apex court, some prisoners who are inside for some small cases were supposed to be released a long ago. But they are still inside the Jails.

While some has got bail but they cannot be released as they do not provide sureties. They cannot deny the fact that the overcrowding in jail was continued while in some cases it has been escalated. The Under Trial Review Committees failed in taking their responsibility seriously.

Supreme Court actions for overcrowding

Supreme Court was totally shocked by this report and said that prisoners cannot be kept in jails like animals. The State Government and Union Territories were criticized harshly for their lack of commitment and should fix this unfortunate situation. The director’s Generals of police and Union Territories are warned by the Bench of Justice MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta.

They have issued a non-compliance notice of not following the Government policy and are asked for an action plan to deal with the overcrowding issue of prisoners. According to them, it is very unfortunate to keep prisoners in jails like this. They also have a life and are human beings. The human rights of prisoners are being violated by the government.

The committee of every district granted the permission to release the prisoner who has completed their sentence and also for under trial prisoners. It wants the State and Union Territories to take actions within two weeks on Standard Operating Procedures for the UTRCs, in consultation with National Legal Service Authority (NALSA).

These actions need to be taken in order to work effectively and efficiently. If they fail to take action within two weeks then they are not able to take any decision. In that case, SOPs will be finalized and will be circulated for compliance.

Apex Court actions

The apex court in consideration of May 6 and October 13, 2016, orders took some actions along with States and UTs. The court was supposed to direct the plans. They failed to do so. But if they will not take any actions than the authorities will be compelled to take some legal actions against them.

The apex court after looking the NALSA report also raised its concern towards filling the vacancies of prison staff. The combined prison staff in all the prisons across India is 77,230 out of which 24,588 are vacant.

The Administration of Open Jails Act and Rules will be finalized by April 30, 2018, by the apex court. The open and semi-open prisoners are allowed to work outside jail premises.  They can earn their livelihood and return back in the evening. This is done to reduce psychological pressure on them and to build in confidence, to live a normal life outside.

The Supreme Court is hearing the matter of the overcrowding of 1382 prisoners across the country. Its is for the inhuman conditions prevailing on them. The next hearing will be held in May.


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