Post the jailbreak by eight SIMI undertrials, the Madhya Pradesh government will review its jail manual and incorporate recommendations to plug loopholes in all the 122 jails in the state that house over 38,000 inmates.
In Madhya Pradesh, jails were established under the Prisons Act, 1894, and the Prisoners Act, 1900 and are governed by the Madhya Pradesh Prisons Rules, 1968. The Model Prison Manual introduced by the central government in 2003 was partially adapted in the state in 2008. According to official documents, more than 200 amendments have been made in the jail manual through Gazette notifications from time to time.
On Friday, HT carried a report whether the “outdated” 118-year-old Prisons Act was responsible for security lapses, as the 1894-enacted law bars guards from carrying arms inside the jail.
Director general (jail) Sanjay Chaudhary said the changes in the jail manual was a policy matter and it would take some time to review and amend it by the state government. The review will look into the possible loopholes in the manual, which need to be plugged, he said.
Madhya Pradesh has the second highest number of 38,458 jail inmates in the country, preceded by Uttar Pradesh (88,747), according to Prison Statistics India-2015.
Jails in the state are battling several issues ranging from overcrowding to lack of upgraded technology and surveillance systems. The state stood second in prisoner occupancy rate with 140 prisoners staying in jails against authorized capacity for 100 inmates, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
A performance audit on management of jails in MP between 2007 and 2012 found shortages of weapons and modern security equipment in district jails and subjails.
“Ninety-sic prisoners escaped from the jails in 91 instances in the state during 2007-12. Cases of possession of prohibited articles with the prisoners in the jails were also noticed in nine test checked jails,” the audit report said.
Chaudhary said a four-member committee headed by additional DG (jail) Sudhir Shahi will audit security at central jails and submit its recommendations within two months.
Former DIG (law) RS Vijayvargiya said one of the main changes that should be brought into the jail manual is a separate high-security jail for militants and SIMI operatives. “Such a high-security jail separately should have electric fencing, more watch towers, high-tech surveillance and armed guards inside the jail and so on,” he said.