Increase capacity in open jails: SC to states

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Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the state governments to take appropriate steps to increase the existing capacity in open prisons so that rehabilitation of jail inmates could improve.

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 the society and reduce their psychological pressure as they faced lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside.

The apex court’s direction came on Tuesday while hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.The two judge bench comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta on Tuesday asked the state governments to increase the existing capacity of inmates in open prisons because most of open prisons were under-utilised. In all, there are 63 open prisons in different part of the country which were not fully utilised.

Additional Solicitor General N.S. Nadkarni who appeared on behalf of the Centre, told the bench that final draft of “Administration of Open Jails Act and Rules” has been finalised and sent to states to notification and implementation. An advocate assisting the court as amicus curaie, told the bench that there are total 63 open prisons in the country and out of them 29 are in Rajasthan.

He added that just 60 per cent capacity of open prisons have been utilised. As regard to overcrowding, the top court said overcrowding is beyond the limit and the issue must be considered by all the High Court as it violates human rights of prisoners. It asked all the High Courts to take up the issue of overcrowding the prisons as suo moto.