Supreme Court To Pass Order On Setting Up Of Committee On Prison Reforms

The Supreme Court said it would pass an order to set up a prison committee.

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would pass an order to set up a committee headed by a retired apex court judge to deal with all issues pertaining to jails across the country and suggest measures for prison reforms.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said they would discuss this issue with Justice S Abdul Nazeer, who was part of the bench on the last date of hearing on August 27, and thereafter pass the order.

While hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across India, the bench had earlier said that a committee should be set up to look into the issue on a day-to-day basis and suggest measures to tackle the problems since it included the issue of human rights of prisoners in jails.

The top court had then taken strong exception to overcrowded jails across the country and said prisoners also have human rights and cannot be kept in jail like “animals”. It had passed a slew of directions over unnatural deaths in jails and on prison reforms.

Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal suggested some “alterations” in the draft of terms of reference for the committee, which was prepared earlier by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni and advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who was an amicus curiae in the matter.

KK Venugopal said the retired apex court judge, who is residing in Delhi-NCR, should be made the member of the committee along with two others, including the Director General (Prison) of the Tihar jail.

The AG’s suggested measures regarding income tax of the members, medical facility and phones. The amicus agreed to the suggestions of the AG.

KK Venugopal said since the issue was “vast and enormous”, the court should see as to how productive the committee could be.

Regarding an earlier draft about associatng an ASG with the committee, the AG said it was “difficult” as “we are having a dearth of ASGs and they are overworked due to the workload”.

To this, the bench said the ASG would not be associated with the committee “full-time”. The court had earlier said that the committee should be given all necessary facilities to carry out their work.

The Centre had said that all benefits given to a Supreme Court judge will be given to the members of the panel, which would look into several issues including that of overcrowding in jails.

The apex court had on August 5 expressed displeasure that several states had not yet appointed the board of visitors who regularly inspect prisons to ensure that they are being run in accordance with rules.

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