Orissa HC sets June 26 date for decongesting jails in State

The bench was taking stock of the progress in tackling overcrowding as part of adjudication on a PIL on problems in jails of the state filed by Krushna Prasad Sahoo in 2006.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High CourtFile photo | express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has set June 26 as deadline for the state government to ensure decongestion of Bhubaneswar special jail, Jajpur district jail and the Bhadrak district jail.

The high court had set the deadline on Friday after taking note of deputy inspector general (DIG) Prisons Gariba Sahu’s affidavit which said 20 jails in the state are overcrowded and three of them at Jajpur, Bhadrak and Bhubaneswar were constantly accommodating inmates much more than their capacity. In the other 17 jails, overcrowding was a temporary phenomenon due to sudden rise in under-trial prisoners (UTPs) remanded by the courts in new cases, Sahu said in the affidavit.

The division bench of Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice MS Raman observed, “The affidavit discloses a very gloomy picture concerning overcrowding in jails. It has been stated by the state authorities. We shall pass appropriate orders in this regard in the next date (June 26), if in the meanwhile there is no satisfactory progress in the situation.”

The bench was taking stock of the progress in tackling overcrowding as part of adjudication on a PIL on problems in jails of the state filed by Krushna Prasad Sahoo in 2006.

In the affidavit, the DIG Prisons said, “To decongest the three overcrowded jails, construction of three new jails with higher scheduled accommodation is underway. As an urgent measure to reduce overcrowding, inmates of the rest of the overcrowded jails are being shifted to nearby less populated jails in regular manner after obtaining permission from concerned courts.”

As on May 15, 2024, the Bhubaneswar special jail had 46 per cent excess population with 1,345 inmates against a capacity to accommodate 991.With 199 inmates against a capacity of 133, the Jajpur district jail has 44 per cent excess. As for Bhadrak district jail which had a capacity to accommodate 201 there were 266 inmates, burdened with 32 per cent more inmates. In the case of Kamakhyanagar sub-jail there was 97 per cent overcrowding with 136 inmates against the capacity of 69, the affidavit stated.

The affidavit further said that additional wards have been constructed in 23 jails during 2020-23 enhancing the total prison capacity by 2,240. Additional wards are under construction in 23 jails to enhance capacity by 1,625 inmates for further mitigating the problem of overcrowding, the DIG Prisons stated.

The 87 jails in the state have a capacity of accommodating 23,656 prisoners. At present, there are 18,497 inmates, 14,907 (80 pc) of them are UTPs.

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