The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to take immediate steps to identify land in Mumbai and Pune for construction of additional jails to reduce overcrowding at Arthur Road and Yerwada prisons.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and A A Sayed also directed the government to see if it can carry out any additional construction at Arthur Road jail here and Yerwada prison in Pune to provide better facilities and space to the prisoners.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO ‘Jan Adalat – Centre of Para-Legal Services and Legal Aid’ on the issue of jail conditions in the state.
“The state government shall undertake immediate exercise of finding out government lands where additional prisons can be constructed in Mumbai and Pune. Appropriate steps shall be taken by the government within a period of three months,” the court ordered yesterday.
It directed the government to set up a committee headed by a retired high court judge and experts as members to conduct a scientific study on setting up a model prison with necessary infrastructure and steps to reduce overcrowding.
The bench directed the committee to file its report along with recommendations in six months.
The court further said adequate provision will have to be made to set up a well equipped hospital inside the prison.
“In fact, the prison hospitals in central prisons should have all the modern amenities and availability of specialised doctors so that prisoners are not required to be admitted to public or private hospitals for undergoing treatment or surgeries,” the court said.
On the issue of minor children staying with their mothers at the Byculla Womens’ prison, the court said the government should take a policy decision as to till what age children can be permitted to stay with their mothers.
“It goes without saying that an arrangement will have to be made by establishing creche, nursery and kindergarten schools and if necessary primary schools near the precincts of the jails so that the children can get proper facilities of education,” the court said.
“If such facilities cannot be provided then the state government must ensure that they (children) are admitted to nearby schools or nurseries. As the mothers will not be in a position to pay regular fees when the children are required to be admitted in private institutions, the government will have to make an arrangement for payment of fees,” the judges said.