Respond to report of ‘inadequate’ services to under-trials in J&K jails: HC to SLSA

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The High Court has directed the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) to respond to a report about “inadequate” services being provided to the under-trials in Jammu and Kashmir jails.
A division bench of Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice D S Thakur asked the SLSA through its counsel Sofi Manzoor to file its response by July 30 to the report which Amicus Curie, Advocate G R Tantray has filed after visiting the jails. 
The report has highlighted the lack of services being provided to the under-trials in jails of the state as well as the overcrowding in some jails and dearth of police manpower to escort the under-trial inmates to courts. Citing the death of an inmate due to stroke in Baramulla jail, the report has indicated that in the face of escort problem, the patients with acute medical complications cannot be shifted to hospitals in time. “In Bandipora jail, the authorities have to call the escort from general police lines for taking the under-trials to the courts.” 
The State government’s Home department has already filed response to the report by the Amicus Curie. After registering the PIL on condition of jails for under trials, the Court in October last year had observed that “jails are not only for punishment but places of reform as well and there is a need of better management to prevent overcrowding in Jails of Jammu and Kashmir”. 
The PIL before the bench related the nine points that the Supreme Court has referred it about the jail inmates of the state. 
In a landmark ruling, the apex court on 5 September 2014 had ordered the release of all under-trial prisoners who have already served half the term of their sentence except for those whose offence attract death penalty. In 2014, the High Court had mobilized judicial officers across the state to visit every prison in their district to identify and release under-trials in consonance with the directions by the Apex Court.
In keeping with the directions of a three-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, sessions judges, chief judicial magistrates and magistrates were to start their jail visits from October 1 2014 to identify and release under-trials.
The reports in this regard were to be filed to the respective State High Courts, which were to pass them on to the Supreme Court. Pursuant to directions, J&K high court’s Registrar General had issued a circular on 12 November 2014, asking all the jurisdictional magistrates, CJMs and the session judges to hold one sitting in a week in each jail or prison to identify cases of those under trial prisoners who have completed half of the maximum period of imprisonment provided for the offence under law for which the prisoner has been jailed.
 

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