High court raps Maharashtra government for failing to comply with its orders on betterment of jails
Mumbai city news: The court had on March 13 issued a number of directives to the state government for ensuring betterment of conditions prevailing in jailsmumbai Updated: Jun 30, 2017 01:21 IST
The Bombay high court on Thursday warned to initiate contempt proceedings against senior home department officials for failing to comply with directions of the court regarding the betterment of conditions in jails across Maharashtra.
“Though the affidavit has been filed for reporting compliance of the order dated March 13, in substance the affidavit reports non-compliance,” said the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Vibha Kankanwadi while commenting on the purported claims of having complied with the court order.
Acting on a public interest litigation filed by Jan Adalat – Centre of Para-Legal Services and Legal Aid — complaining about poor conditions of jails in the state, the court had on March 13 issued a number of directives to the state government for ensuring betterment of conditions prevailing in jails, especially overcrowding, poor food quality and lack of medical aid.
Pursuant to the directive, the Maharashtra government has set up a five-member committee headed by a retired high court judge, Justice S Radhakrishnan for recommending measures to modernise existing prisons and set up a model prison in the state where essential services can be provided to prisoners.
The bench noted that none of the other directives have been complied with by the government. It noted that in the affidavit, it was claimed that committees have been appointed at district levels to monitor the quality of food served in prisons and conditions of prison kitchens.
The compliance affidavit filed by the home department said that committees comprised members such as dieticians on the establishments of civil or district hospitals, however, the officers present in court were not sure if there were dieticians on the establishments of civil or district hospitals. Besides, the judges noted that the affidavit was also silent on the qualification or selection criteria of social workers to be included in the committees.
“Prima facie, it appears to us that the said GR is issued without verifying whether qualified dieticians are available on the establishments of district or civil hospital,” said the bench, noting that the compliance was only on paper and nothing had in fact been done pursuant to directions of the court.