Mumbai, April 27 (IANS) The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday said that efficient legal aid service for women undertrials was lacking in the city’s Byculla Jail.
“The main problem observed during the inspection and after interacting with inmates was that of an inefficient legal aid service. The team met undertrials who are suffering prolonged detention due to substandard legal aid,” said NCW acting chairperson Rekha Sharma.
The inspection conducted is a part of the NCW’s ongoing project to visit all the jails in the country in order to formulate a manual for comprehensive prison reforms for women inmates.
According to NCW, a team led by Sharma visited the jail to carry an inspection on various aspects including overcrowding, availability of legal help, rehabilitation plans including skill development and training, legal awareness and legal help for women inmates and proper facilities for the children of these inmates among others.
“The areas that need substantial improvement are the availability of a formal in-house gynaecologist and paediatrician for inmates and their children, absence of crèche facility, no guidance and policy for pregnant women,” said a statement by NCW.
The women’s body also found that many undertrials were languishing in jail despite being granted bail as many had no financial means to pay for bail bonds.
“Furthermore, there was an absence of an institutionalised system or fast-track courts for foreign women inmates who were in prison for such offences as trafficking and drug peddling,” it added.
However, as per NCW, there was an improvement in amenities being provided to women like a separate area was demarcated for lodging inmates who had small children and the inmates were happy with the quality of food provided.