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SC seeks details on over-crowded prisons

Court to hear issues on abject conditions in jail

The Supreme Court has asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to provide details and figures of prisons where the occupancy rate is over 150% as on December 31, 2017.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur has further asked NALSA Director Surinder S. Rathi to provide the number of posts lying vacant in major prisons across the country. The top court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.

The apex court further agreed to hear issues related to standard operating procedure for Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs) and responses received from States and Union Territories on open jails on March 27.

The UTRCs, set up in every district, deliberates and recommends the release of undertrial prisoners and convicts who have completed their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail due to bail or remission granted to them.

Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with society and reduce the psychological pressure and lack of confidence they faced lack of confidence in returning to lives outside prison.

For open prisons

On September 15, last year, a Supreme Court judgment had encouraged the need for open prisons. It had urged for steps like the appointment of counsellors and support persons for prisoners, particularly first-time offenders.

The apex court had suggested steps like more family visits for prisoners and use of phones and video-conferencing not only between a prisoner and family, but also his lawyers.

The court had directed the State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) to conduct a study and performance audit of prisons. It wanted the government to constitute a Board of Visitors which includes eminent members of society to initiate prison reforms.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 4:18:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-seeks-details-onover-crowded-prisons/article22860515.ece

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