The Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government on Friday for failing to comply with its directions about providing better facilities to prisoners lodged in its jails.
The high court, in March this year, had passed a slew of directions asking the government to set up an experts committee headed by a retired high court judge to conduct a scientific study on setting up a model prison with necessary infrastructure and steps to reduce overcrowding.
The bench had directed the committee to submit its report and recommendations within six months.
The directions were passed on a public interest litigation on the issue of conditions in prisons.
When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, a division bench of justices A S Oka and M S Sonak observed that the government had not complied with any of the directions.
“Only a committee has been formed… other than this nothing has been done. This amounts to contempt of our order. Why should we not initiate action against concerned officers? The state chief secretary himself is aware of our order,” the court said.
The bench directed the government to file an affidavit explaining why it failed to comply with the order, and adjourned the hearing to January.
In its March order, the HC had asked the government to take immediate steps to identify places in Mumbai and Pune to construct additional jails so that overcrowding at the Arthur Road prison in Mumbai and the Yerwada prison in Pune is reduced.
The court had also said that adequate provisions should to be made to set up a well-equipped hospital inside prisons.
“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,” the court had said.