SC Seeks Information on Medical Facilities and Vocational Training for Prisoners Amid Overcrowding Concerns

PRISON Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: 01 September 2023 at 12:40 IST

In its ongoing efforts to address the issue of overcrowded jails and the challenging conditions faced by inmates, the Supreme Court has directed the Centre and states to provide details about the availability of medical facilities and vocational training for prisoners.

The apex court is currently examining the alleged “inhuman conditions” prevalent in 1,382 prisons across India and seeking ways to reform the prison system.

During a recent hearing presided over by a bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal, the court reviewed the preliminary reports submitted by a committee appointed by the Supreme Court in September 2018 to address prison reforms.

The committee, led by former Supreme Court judge Justice (retd) Amitava Roy, was tasked with making recommendations on various aspects, including overcrowding in prisons.

The court urged advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, to share copies of the committee’s reports with counsel representing the Union of India and state governments.

The bench provided time for the parties’ counsel to review the reports and prepare to assist the court during the next hearing.

The court identified several key areas that require attention, including the availability of medical facilities for inmates, vocational training within prisons, and the presence of adequate information technology (IT) infrastructure for conducting virtual court proceedings and allowing visitation rights for family members of incarcerated individuals.

To address these concerns, the court directed the Union of India and state governments to file appropriate affidavits through the Director General of Prisons within three weeks, with copies provided to the amicus curiae.

The amicus curiae will compile the information for the court’s perusal during the next hearing.

The court also indicated that the counsel for the parties will provide assistance on matters related to women and children in detention, transgender prisoners, and death row convicts. The resumed hearing for the case is scheduled for September 26.

In its original order on September 25, 2018, the Supreme Court established the committee on prison reforms with the objective of reviewing the implementation of guidelines outlined in the Model Prison Manual, 2016 by states and Union Territories.

The committee’s mandate includes evaluating issues such as overcrowding, legal aid availability, remission and parole, violence prevention, and medical facilities in prisons and correctional homes.

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