The government admitted, on Tuesday, that conditions of the sub-jails in the state were bad. However, the government has claimed to take steps to make the place ‘livable’ for undertrials or convicts, even if they are there for a few days.
Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court stating that they have released funds of Rs 3.5 lakh for the clean-up of all sub-jails in the state. Of 172 sub-jails in the state, only 115 are functional.
“The government has asked the public works department to repair the sub-jails where required. More funds will be released soon,” said Pol.
The high court, in July, had taken cognisance of a letter written by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an NGO working for the rights of prisoners, and turned it into a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
Mahrukh Adenwala, advocate for the petitioner, sought that the prison department, which falls under the home department, should control the sub-jails. At present, sub-jails come under the revenue department. “The tehsildar, who is already overburdened, works as a superintendent of the sub-jails. Also, the police guard the sub-jails.
So, what is the point of sending an undertrial to judicial custody [if the police are going to guard the undertrial and not the jail staff]?” Adenwala said.
When undertrials are sent to judicial custody, it is the prison staff, and not the police who have to guard them.
However, Pol opposed the plea saying that it was not possible to have a separate set up for sub-jails as there is not enough manpower.
A division bench of Justices BH Marlapalle and UD Salvi asked Adenwala to suggest names of activists who could analyse the conditions of the jail properly and help in monitoring the situation. The court has asked her to come up with names of NGOs working for improving prison in Vidharbha and Marathwada regions.