NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today expressed concern over violent incidents and unnatural deaths in prisons across the country over claims of inadequate staff, saying "states can't allow people to die in jail over shortage of staff."
The bench comprising justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana made the observation after it was informed that state governments and prison authorities have claimed that due to inadequate staff they were unable to control the violent incidents.
"How much staff do they want. This is a country of over 1.5 billion population and still they fail to get staff for jails. What do they want? Does entire country should work for jails. State can't allow the people to die in jail over shortage of staff," it said.
The bench asked the Centre to coordinate with the DGPs of different states and file details about shortage of staff in jails in their respective jurisdiction and the number of unnatural deaths in prisons. The bench direction came after amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal submitted that unnatural death in prisons comprises due to suicides, violence during transit of prisoners, group rivalry and prison rioting. He said the main reason attributed by states and jail authorities to these violences is that they have inadequate staffs to man the prisons.
"The prison across the country are over crowded and in that proportion the jails have inadequate staffs," he said. The bench also directed the Centre to ensure strict implementation of Model Prison Manual 2016 in compliance with its earlier direction.
Counsel for Centre submitted that union government can't push the matter after a point as its the state subject and there are limitation. "Although we are coordinating with the states to implement the directions of the court, but after a point Centre can't do anything," the counsel said. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on April 4 and asked the Centre to hold a meeting with all concerned jail officials, DGPs and ensure compliance of its directions.