Study reveals that no bail money leaves 23 women inmates to languish in Maharashtra jails
The commission members visited the jail to inspect various aspects, ranging from overcrowding, availability of legal help, rehabilitation plans, including skill development and training, legal awareness and legal help for women inmates, proper facilities for the children of inmates and other issues.Updated: May 27, 2018 17:48 IST
According to a study by the Maharashtra state commission for women, 23 women prisoners are languishing in state jails as they can’t afford to pay the bail surety amount.
Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson, Maharashtra state commission for women, completed her inspection of the women’s jail on Saturday and was accompanied by V N Jadhav, special inspector general of police (IGP), prison headquarters, and Y C Pawar, superintendent, Yerwada central jail . Three of the 23 women are lodged in the women’s jail in Yerawada.
The commission members visited the jail to inspect various aspects, ranging from overcrowding, availability of legal help, rehabilitation plans, including skill development and training, legal awareness and legal help for women inmates, proper facilities for the children of inmates and other issues.
Some of the amenities available in the jail and the sensitivity to women have shown a marked improvement, Rahatkar said, adding that a separate area was demarcated for lodging inmates who had small children. The inmates were happy with the quality of food provided, she added.
Rahatkar has asked the jail department to submit a proposal before the commission to start a corpus fund to help those prisoners who are lodged in jail due to their inability to pay the bail amount.
“We will make available about Rs 1.5 crore which will be sufficient. The bail amount is returned after certain period”, she said.
Rahatkar said that the women’s jails were overcrowded with 4,000 prisoners in 31 jails across the state. In Pune, the women’s jail had 289 inmates, while it only had a capacity of 126. She has suggested that to reduce overcrowding in jails, women prisoner should be transferred to open jail after spending five years (in serious cases) and three years (in minor cases) in the closed jail.
“We have come to know that there is shortage of staffs to escort prisoners to court. We will take up the matter with the concerned authorities, including city police. Problems are faced in only some cases as most prisoners are produced to court via video conferencing,” she said.
The medical facilities, food quality and other basic requirements were satisfactory. “The commission, in association with Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Drishti, is conducting a study of women prisoners’ health issues. The study will be over in the next three to four months across all jails in Maharashtra. Except two prisoners, who are suffering from life threatening disease, others have reported minor illness. With the help of telemedicine, most of the of issues are diagnosed within the jail premises,” Rahatkar added.
BOX: women prisoners can lodge complaint
Rahatkar informed that boards have been put up inside the prisons asking prisoners to lodge complaint with the commission if they face any issues. “There is a complaint box and its key is with the district judge who visits the jail regularly. The women can tell the judge or commission member during inspection. When I interacted with them, the jail staff were not with me. Also we expect the jail administration to forward the letter of the prisoners to the commission, if they want to write,” she added.
The boards were put up based on recommendation of the special investigation team (SIT) of the commission, which was formed after custodial death of a woman prisoner in Byculla jail in June 2017.
BOX: Sanitary napkin vending machine, incinerator in all jails
“Permission has been granted for the installation of sanitary napkin vending machine and incinerator in all 31 women's jails in the state. This is a step towards better health of the prisoners,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson, Maharashtra State Commission for Women
First Published: May 27, 2018 16:47 IST