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HC tells government to conduct study on condition of prisons in state

Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court emphasized the need for Maharashtra government to conduct a scientific study on setting up a model prison in the state on the lines of those in developed countries.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and A A Sayyed said considering the increasing number of arrests and undertrials, jails in the state will have to be relooked at and a study conducted to ascertain future requirements.

“How many undertrials are lodged at the jails across Maharashtra now? What will be the requirement in future? Has the state government applied its mind on all these issues? What facilities will be required?” the court said while hearing a public interest litigation on the issue of condition of jails in the state.

“The government will have to conduct an exercise and ascertain what are the requirements of a model and modern jail on the lines of jails in developed countries. The state can take help of some retired senior police officials or some expert from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS),” the court said.

The court pointed out that the Arthur Road prison and Byculla prison in Mumbai were home to undertrials beyond their capacity. “At Arthur Road and Byculla there is no space for development also. You (government) cannot go vertical,” the bench said.

It said the government will have to see how many jails will be required over the next decade.

“In the past the concept of high-risk prisoners was not there. But now several such prisoners are lodged at the Arthur Road jail. Similarly, it needs to be seen what the future requirements will be,” Justice Oka said.

The court has posted the petition for further hearing on January 23.

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