New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the state governments to take appropriate steps to increase the existing capacity in open prisons.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta asked the state governments to increase the existing capacity of inmates in open prisons after taking into note that there are 63 open prisons in different part of the country but these were not fully utilised.
Open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with the society and reduce their psychological pressure as they faced lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre told the bench that final draft of “Administration of Open Jails Act and Rules” has been finalised and sent to states to notification and implementation.
An advocate assisting the court as amicus curaie, told the bench that there are total 63 open prisons in the country and out of them 29 are in Rajasthan. He added that just 60 per cent capacity of open prisons have been utilised.
The court’s direction came while hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.
On the issue of overcrowding prisons, the apex court said the overcrowding is beyond the limit and the issue must be considered by all the High Court as it violates human rights of prisoners.
It asked all the High Courts to take up the issue of overcrowding the prisons as suo moto.
Earlier, the court was informed that over 1,300 prisons across the country were overcrowded, even to the extent of more than 600 per cent.
Regarding vacancies in the prison staff, the bench said prison authorities and state government to recruit prison staff and asked High Courts to also take this issue as suo moto.