After receiving flak for not providing non-vegetarian food to prisoners, the jail authorities were again rapped by the Bombay High Court for selling items in jail canteens at escalated prices.
The high court has directed the prison authorities to ensure that jail canteens sell items at maximum retail price (MRP) and not at escalated prices.
The division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A.R. Joshi also directed the jail authorities to ensure that all 87 items, which are permitted by the jail manual to be sold in these canteens, to be made available to prisoners.
“The canteen shall ensure the availability of all food items which are supposed to be available all the time and sell them at genuine prices and not at any exorbitant cost,” said the bench.
The court’s decision came after an undertrial, Vinesh Shetty, wrote a letter to the court alleging that food articles were being sold at prices higher than the MRP in jail canteens. The jail manual prescribes 87 items like soaps, oil, toothpaste and food items, except clothes, to be made available in jail canteens. The inspector general (prisons) has discretion to allow or not allow any item in a particular jail canteen.
Shetty had, in his letter, also alleged that of the permitted 87 items, only 10 to 12 items are kept in stock at any time. Claiming to be suffering from kidney problem and skin disease, Shetty alleged that prisoners were not allowed to take items that their relatives get for them in the court on their date of hearings.
The high court has directed the courts where undertrials are produced to consider on merit handing over items brought by their relatives after necessary security checks.
The high court also told the trial judges to “not allow prisoners to take items in bulk so that a prisoner does not enter into any commercial activity inside the jail. The concerned court should ensure that the items which are being provided are for his personal use.”
The court directed that Shetty be examined by a specialist for his alleged kidney disease and provide treatment.