Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal and her team inspected the women’s cell in Tihar jail in the national capital. Before the jail inspection, she met the Director General (prisons) and other jail officials, discussing with them the problems faced by women prisoners and suggested reforms to the jail administration and the Central government.
According to information provided by Tihar jail authorities, there are 276 prisoners in the women’s cell, of which 240 are undergoing trial while 35 have been sentenced to imprisonment by the court.
As the DCW team reached the jail premises, they found that three women were lodged in a small prison cell with a bathroom facility without any door or wall. The prisoners were living in inhuman conditions inside the prison cell.
The DCW has suggested to the jail administration that the toilets in these prison cells must have a wall and door.
A legal cell is run inside the jail premises which a lawyer visits after 3 p.m. and helps the prisoners. The DCW recommended that keeping in view the number of prisoners lodged there, at least five lawyers should be made available inside the jail premises the whole day to assist the prisoners with their court cases.
Tihar jail officials said, “Before the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, a programme ‘Mulaqat’ was started in the jail where the families of the prisoners could meet them through a proper system. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, this initiative has been postponed.”
The DCW has suggested that as long as Covid-19 cases were low, this programme should be started again. Apart from this, there is a need to improve facilities given to prisoners while talking to their families over the phone and also speed post while remaining in jail.
Many facilities are being provided by the government for the rehabilitation of women prisoners such as fashion designing, make-up courses, computer coaching, yoga etc. But due to Covid-19, the teachers for these courses are no longer available.
The DCW has suggested that these courses should be started again by bringing in good teachers.
The women working in the jail receive minimum daily wages from the administration but as per a jail order, Rs 340 is deducted from their salaries as maintenance charges. Other prisoners who do not work at all don’t have to pay any such fee.
According to DCW, this fee is discriminatory against those trying to earn by working hard and hence it needs to be abolished or reduced.
The women living in Tihar jail make clothes, office files, biscuits, snacks etc. and the products are sold under the brand name of TJ in Tihar jail stores.
The DCW suggested that products made by women prisoners of Tihar jail should be used in government departments and efforts should be made to sell them on Amazon, Grofers etc. The money collected from the sale of these goods should be spent on the rehabilitation of these women prisoners and their children.
For women prisoners having young children with them, there is a a creche facility provided in the jail.
The DCW has recommended that children can be cared for better by bringing good teachers and caretakers to the creche.
It has also suggested sensitization of prison staff, plans for rehabilitation of women prisoners, increasing the number of books in the library and de-addiction programmes.
Swati Maliwal said, “our DCW team has inspected the women’s prison cell in Tihar jail. Of these, 80 per cent women prisoners are those with cases pending in court and have not been convicted yet. Maintenance of jails should be better so that when these women are released from the jail they can start their life afresh in the society. This is why we are sending these suggestions to the government and the jail administration.”