Government constitutes District Level Committees(s) to improve conditions of prisons in J&K UT



JAMMU : In a significant move to take various measures for improving the conditions of prisons in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the government has accorded sanction to constitute District Level Committee(s) for the same.

The order by the UT government to constitute the panel is in compliance with the Supreme Court order wherein the apex court had passed in a Writ Petition (Civil) regarding inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons.

The committee consisted of Principal/District Judge (Chairperson of the District Legal Services Authority) as Chairman, District Magistrate concerned as Member, Senior Superintendent/Superintendent of Police as Member, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority as Convener and Superintendent of Jail as Member.

It is pertinent to mention here that Greater Jammu in its March 4, 2024 edition had also filed a story mentioning that J&K UT was among the 11 States/UTs wherein the prisons are grappling with the issue of overcrowding.  It was reported that of the total available capacity of 3629 prisoners in J&K UT, the actual inmates are 5314. The total Occupancy Rate in the UT Prisons is 146.4.

The constituted committee(s) will assess the available infrastructure and current capacity of existing jails and assess the requirement of constructing more jails in the district or enhancing the capacity of existing jails to meet the standards laid down in the Model Prison Manual, 2016.

The panel will also consider the implementation of steps required for incorporating Artificial Intelligence and introducing video conferencing for conducting (meetings) and telemedicine facilities for the ease of the inmates.

The committee has been assigned with the task to initiate steps to examine the requirement of expanding the existing jails and acquiring land to set up new jails within the district, depending on the current capacity, occupancy and future demands of the district and come up with firm proposals.

“To seek and monitor the status of all the ongoing projects/proposals that are pending in the districts(s) and ensure that milestones are set down for completing the ongoing projects.

Wherever a project has yet to take off for want of land, take steps to identify land for acquisition and to table the report before the Chief Secretary for obtaining necessary approvals and fast-tracking the process”, the order said.

“To examine the needs of the districts(s) and formulate proposals over and above those laid down in the Model Prison Manual . However, the minimum requirements prescribed under the said manual shall not be compromised”, it added.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved the “Modernisation of Prisons Project” with a financial outlay of Rs 950 crore for a period of five years with effect from Financial Year 2021-22 to 2025-26. Funds have been provided to all States and UTs who have adopted the Model Prison Manual, 2016 in their jurisdictions.