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Build more jails to avoid overcrowding, says HC

High-CourtThe Bombay High Court today suggested setting up of more jails in Maharashtra to accommodate rising number of prisoners and called for framing guidelines on lodging convicts and undertrials separately.

The HC said the central and Maharashtra governments should consider constructing more prisons given the rise in population and rued that there was a lack of research and planning on the issue.

“Since India got Independence in 1947, no new prisons have come up. The population has now increased so much. The government should consider setting up new prisons. It is very unfortunate that no research or planning is being done on this issue,” a division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade said.

The bench made the observation while hearing a petition filed by one Shaikh Ibrahim Abdul, currently lodged in Yerwada Central Prison, who raised the issue of poor conditions in the British-era jail.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, appearing for the petitioner, told the HC that there are at present over 4,000 inmates in Yerwada prison, much above its capacity.

“For interviews (meetings) of the inmates with their family members and lawyers, there are only 15 windows, five of which are reserved for lawyers. The jail authorities have also laid down a condition that lawyers should come in uniform if they want to meet their clients,” he said.

Defending the rule, government counsel Jayesh Yagnik told the HC that several times people come to meet the inmates claiming to be their lawyers and smuggle SIM cards and mobile phones inside and hence precautionary measures have to be taken.

The HC directed the Principal District Judge of Pune to appoint a judicial officer to conduct inspection of Yerwada prison and submit, in two weeks, a report on prevailing conditions in the facility.

It also suggested housing undertrials separately to avoid overcrowding. Also, those convicted of serious offences should be lodged in separate jails and prisoners serving sentence for petty crimes may be kept in open prisons.

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