NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed its concern over the increasing number of prisoners languishing in jails across the country and said prisoners too deserved to be treated with dignity.
“It is clear that in spite of several orders passed by this court from time to time in various petitions, for one reason or another, the issue of overcrowding in jails continues to persist,” a Bench of Justices M B Lokur and R K Agrawal said.
“Has anything changed on the ground? The prison statistics available as on December 31, 2014, from the website of the National Crime Records Bureau indicate that as far as overcrowding is concerned, there is no perceptible change and, in fact, the problem of overcrowding has perhaps been accentuated with the passage of time,” the court observed. The court also said there was no noticeable change in the condition of prisoners and observed that prisoners deserve to be treated with dignity.
The court, which passed a slew of directions aimed at prison reforms, also issued notice to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and directed it to prepare a prison manual after looking into the condition of juveniles who are in Observation Homes.
The court noted that the jail in Dadra and Nagar Haveli (331.7 per cent) was the most crowded, followed by Chhattisgarh (258.9 per cent) and Delhi (221.6 per cent). “Prison reforms have been the subject matter of discussion and decisions rendered by this court from time to time over the last 35 years. Unfortunately, even though Article 21 of the Constitution requires a life of dignity for all persons, little appears to have changed on the ground.