CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday directed Director General (DG) of Prisons to draw up a long-term plan to ensure that the quality of food served in the jails of Odisha is nutritious, desirable and of adequate calorific value.
The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik said, “the quality of food served in the jails is a matter of concern”, while directing the DG of Prisons to prepare the plan in consultation with the experts and seek the court’s direction wherever required for implementation. The bench issued the direction after Director General (DG) Prisons Santosh Kumar Upadhyay who was present in virtual mode, stated that in each jail a selected group of prisoners cook the food for the inmates with raw materials provided by the prison authorities.
The bench observed, “The current system involves the convicts preparing the food for themselves as well as under trial prisoners. This is not a satisfactory arrangement at all.”The court further directed the DG of Prisons to deploy agencies for hygiene of the wards and toilets in the jails instead of leaving this task of maintaining cleanliness to the inmates themselves.
“There also has to be close supervision of this task of maintaining cleanliness. Again, a plan be drawn up by the DG Prisons and wherever the direction of the Court is required be sought,” the bench observed, while expecting the plans to be ready by the next date of hearing on May 5.
The court was hearing the PIL on problems in jails of the State. On the basis of a report submitted by Justice SK Panigrahi, the court had on April 11 directed the secretary of every district legal services authority (DLSA) to undertake an unannounced visit along with non-official visitors to the jails and sub-jails within their jurisdiction.
Some of the detailed reports of DLSAs along with a note was submitted by Amicus Curiae Gautam Mishra indicating that the kitchens in at least 12 jails require immediate repair and drinking water facility installed. Food and nutrition standards were not being adhered to in six jails and required “massive improvement”.