Annual Jail Visit of District Jail Jammu Conducted by a team of lawyers from the High Court Bar Association
“…… If the complete absence of human rights moorings in India has escaped notice it is only because the State has through law and lathi shrouded the prison system with an iron curtain through which only those may pass who have no hope of returning. And while the press, the public and the social activist is debarred ,the Courts turn a blind eye. While crores of rupees are spent in esoteric research of dubious standards with manuscripts thrown into the dustbin after the degrees are awarded ,not a thing is done about prison research . As a consequence the criminalization of the prison administration proceeds apace and is the main factor contributing to the hardening of the offender and to the inmates physical and psychological breakdown…..”
Colin Gonzlaves Advocate Supreme Court in “ Prisoners Rights”
The present visit was conducted in pursuance of the orders of the Hon’ble High Court in OWP No: 767/2006, case titled J&K High Court Bar Association vs State of J&K & Ors. A team of members of the Bar Association visited the District Jail Jammu on 16.11.2012. The visit was conducted by a team comprised of the following members:
1. Mr Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Adv …General Secretary – Bar Association
2. Mr Arshad Andrabi , Advocate …Executive member – Bar Association
3. Mr Anwar ul Islam Shaheen. Advocate Jt. Secretary – Bar Association
District Jail Jammu is located in the heart of the city of Jammu at Amphalla near Ranbir Government Press. The present strength of the inmates depicted officially in all jails across the State is 2409. The District Jail is officially declared to have a capacity to accommodate 450 inmates , but the number of inmates lodged on the day of visit was 555. This jail is definitely one of the overcrowded jails in the state and is bound to face problems arising thereof.
Mr Dinesh Sharma is holding the office of the Superintendent District Jail Jammu , assisted by Dy superintendent Subash Kumari and Assistant Superintendent Ibrahim. The team member had an occasion to have interaction with Director General Prisons Mr Rajendran , DIG Dr Mohammad Sultan , besides Div Com Jammu Mr Shant Manu, who were coming to Jail to attend a function organised in connection with Gurpurab festival. The DG Prisons showed keen interest to know the impressions of the Bar team to bring in improvement in the system of prison management. The inmates lodged in these prisons have to come out as better human beings who are reformed and useful to the society. Prison department is issuing a monthly newsletter giving details of important developments and events. He expressed his wish to put all the details about the inmates on the website so that things become more and more transparent and accessible to the public and families of the inmates. He was informed about the difficulties of the prisoners with respect to non receipt of postage and non acceptance of money orders sent by the family members of detenues. He promised to look into it and devise a mechanism to solve these problems. It was suggested that the website maintained by Prison department should be made interactive so that suggestions can be given and the inmates are able to communicate with outside world. He was very positive about it and informed that he has suggested telephone , video conferencing facilities for inmates so that they can interact with their families. This is supposed to help to overcome depression and mental anxiety neurosis developing amongst the prison population. He discussed about his Vision 2050 but complained about lack of funds with the Government. He was informed that some foreign prisoners are reported to have turned insane and they are managed only by administering sedatives and psychotropic drugs and are never allowed to regain consciousness. The need for arranging psychiatric expert to care for the mental health of the prisoners was a requirement which needed to be attended to on priority. The prison doctor present there seconded this requirement. The need for psychological study of the behaviour of the inmates is a basic requirement of a modern day prison system which helps in applying correctional techniques and helps in reforming the individuals. In this regard the present day system of prison management is primitive ,crude and inhuman and falls much below the standards prescribed at International levels. The claim of improving the prison management is not visible in view of the lack of basic facilities and requirements. Although many reforms have been made during the years but the prison staff needs to be sensitised to the needs of the modern times.
The interview of the detainees was conducted in presence of jail staff , by selecting group samples from various categories of inmates at random . The detainees were called by the Jail Staff in batches and had interaction with the team members. The strength of the inmates category wise was hown as:
|S.NO||Class OF Inmates||Male||Female||Total||Remarks|
|Grand Total (i)+(ii)=555|
i. The first interview conducted was of Mohammad Amin Dar S/o Sonaullah Dar R/o Banihal . He is an educated youth undergoing life sentence in a militancy related incident. He has undergone incarceration since 1995. He remained under detention in district Jail Udhampur from 1995-98, then in Kote Balwal from 98 to 2003. District Jail Ambphalla 2003-2005, then in Udhampur form 2005 to 2010. From 2010 till date he is lodged in this jail. The Jail being already overcrowded , the logic of lodging Life Convicts in this District Jail is not understood. As per Jail Manual such convicts are to be lodged in a Central Jail. In the alternative following the guidelines issued by Supreme court the detainees are to be lodged nearer to their home places. Teh inmate informed that he has moved an application seeking permission to sit in an University Examination for which center has been fixed in Srinagar Central Jail. Another co inmate has appeared in the examination of ‘Dabeer e Qabil’ arranged by AMU Aligarh with center in Srinagar Central Jail. He has also filed an application seeking permission for shifting to Srinagar Central jail. Some papers are scheduled on 2.12.2013 and 28.12.2013. He is also facing some medical problems and Dr Suresh Kumar HOD Cardiology GMC Jammu has advised ‘Thelium test’ to be conducted for which facilities are available in SKIMS Srinagar or in AIIMS New Delhi. Seeks legal help to sort out these issues.
ii. Javaid Ahmad is facing a criminal trial in connection with case FIR No: 123/2007 P/s Nawabad jammu .His case is being conducted by Ad O.P.Sharma at Jammu. He was already bailed out in FIR No: 246/2007 in P/s Kulgam . He was thereafter booked under J&K PSA by DM Kulgam and this order has been challenged in High Court by Ad Zaffar Qureshi. He has been allowed to appear in Dabeer Qabil examination held at examination Center fixed in Central Jail Srinagar. His impression about this jail is that it is already overcrowded and there is no space available for normal life activities. He wants shifting to a place of lodgement where at least there is sufficient space to breathe.
iii. Next interaction was conducted with Jameel Ahmad Awan S/o Mohammad Sadiq R/o Abotabad . He is a matriculate and is presently held under J&K PSA to regulate his presence till his deportation is arranged. A criminal case was field against him before CJM Jammu who has committed it to Sessions court. But the Sessions court did not frame any charges against him. He is in this jail since March 2010. The period of detention in total exceeds the maximum period prescribed for the offences under which he is shown to have been booked. Three orders of detention to regulate his presence issued under PSA have also expired so far. He does not have any lawyer in Jammu and his case was referred to legal aid committee but they have not come forward so far. The Challan was filed after 5 ½ years and there are seven more accused persons in the case whose presence has not been procured so far in the court. This has resulted in protraction of the trial. Next date fixed in the court is 31.10.2013. He fears that some people arrested in the case must have been killed extra judicially. He gives their names as Shamsher, Muzamil, Furqan, Taimiya ,Qaism and Rizwan. This is a matter of serious concern and needs further probe and investigation. He also reported that in this jail there are eleven inmates from across the border who have turned insane. Amnon them two have completed their sentences but are kept there for more than tow years in excess of their punishment. The names are Alla Dita s/o Jan Mohammad R/o Pak pattan and Ashiq Ali S/o Warrnd R/o Balochistan . The eleven inmates who have turned insane are managed by administering psychotropic drugs and sedatives and they are seldom allowed to gain consciousness. In case of one detainee the court has refused to proceed in the trial because of insanity of the inmate , The name of the detenue is Dulat Deen from Punjab. There are in total 18 foreigners in this jail. The matter needs attention of the authorities and Bar may like to apprise the Hon’ble court about the plight of such detainees. Although there have been consular level meetings between the officials of India and Pakistan ,latest of which took place on 26.10.2013 , yet their cases have not been taken up in that meeting.
He relates the recent incident reported in newspapers about an murderous assault on him in custody on 28.9.2013. The inmate was taken in handcuffs to the court and after completing court proceedings he was waiting for return vehicle escorted by his Handcuff man – Ct. Lakhvinder Singh Ct No: 795/s and the Incharge Escort party ASI Darshan Kumar. Another life convict Anchal Kumar of R.S.Pura undergoing trial in a murder case was also brought in handcuffs from Kote Balwal Central jail. He inquired from his handcuffman about the nationality of the victim [jameel] and after some movements without any provocation assaulted him with a brick which hit the victim with the iron lock of the handcuff and tried to strangle him with the chain of the handcuff. Both the detainees were in handcuffs and the handcuff men only watched this scene till he was dragged away. The victim sustained injury on his temple and requested his handcuffman to take him to his lawyer and the judge. But he has taken away and after some time shown to a doctor in GMC. A medical ticket was prepared under No: ML NO: 9896 dt: 28.9.2013 and he was taken to an ENT. The attitude of doctors in JMC was also biased as they commented to the patient that you are getting good treatment in our jails but our prisoners in Pakistani Jails is harsh. The sentiments against Pakistani prisoners are found hostile and this has led to the recent incident of killing a Pakistani prisoner Sonaullah Ranje in Kote Balwal Jail by another convict in the similar circumstances. The matter assumes importance in view of the obligations of the nation states under various conventions and International Treaties singed under International law and obligations to treat the prisoner under International Humanitarian Law. The Bar Association may like to apprise the Hon’ble High Court about these issues.
iv. Abdul Majid S/o Mohammad Ahmad R/o Nawabshah Sindh narrated the same kind of story without complaining about any logistic problems. To that extent they appeared to have remain content with their fate. But they have shown their concern about the attitude of the escorting police and fellow inmates turning hostile against these foreign inmates. He is facing trial in a militancy related case before Sessions Judge Jammu in the same trial of Case FIR No: 3/2007 in which detenue Jameel Ahmad is facing trial. They are not allowed to receive letters or money orders to meet their petty day to day needs. There are 25 foreigners in this jail out of which 15 are Pakistanis , 5 Burmese and 6 Bangladeshis . The inmates are feeling insecure and depressed because of these incidents and the apathy of the authorities while neglecting attention and their security.
The problems faced by the detenues and prisoners can be discussed generally by identifying main problems at various stage. Like arrest and detention without any accountability, the initial shock and mental pressure on the arrested person and his family. Illegal torture, harassment and mental agony, Unfettered discretion exercised by the police and detaining authorities to detain him under draconian laws like PSA etc. The period of detention, the place of lodgement away from their homes , geographical region which has the effect of draining the resources of the family and putting them under extreme stress. The condition inside jails, water, food, clothing, entertainment , library, sports , information to prisoners, vocational activities, proper space and inadequate sanitation hygiene, medical facilities, psychiatric counselling to overcome stress and depression ; absence legal aid , non production in courts, attitude of the police and jail authorities & staff , treatment with relatives and interviewers, legal literacy- awareness about their rights and privileges. Problems faced by women prisoners, absence of proper grievance redressal mechanisms, hurdling of first time visitors with hardened criminals , maintenance and financial aid to poor detenues and their family members. Compensation for wrongful confinement.
The condition of prisons, holding within their confines prisoners, undertrials and detainees held under preventive and special laws has been the concern of Bar Association for the last two decades. Various petitions have been filed in Hon’nble High court to invoke some kind of judicial activism to bring in some relief to these detainees. In the year 1994, orders were passed in WP No: 850/1994 case titled Jalil Andrabi vs State of J&K & Ors to constitute committees in each District constituted of D&S Judge, the DM, SP and CMO who shall visit each and every jail/sub jail/ nterrogation Centre and police lock up in the District, and prepare a list of detenues disclosing the case /cases in which they have been shown arrested, the period for which they have been shown arrested , the period for which they are in detention and the facilities provided to them; it was also directed, inter alia, that all ailing detenues shall be got medically examined by at least two Specialists posts in Hospitals for treatment and to reconvene its meetings after every two weeks to take stock of the progress made in this behalf; and to submit interim reports to the Hon’ble High court. These directions were reiterated in OWP NO;166/2004 and in the year 2006 another petition bearing No: 675/2004 was decided by the Honble court and following directions were issued to streamline the prison system in the State , which included creation of special force kept at the disposal of the jail officers for transportation and escort of detenues and undertrials from jail to court of law and hospitals and other institutions. The Trial courts and concerned SSP’s were directed to work in coordination and ensure the production of detenues in courts on fixed dates . The Trail judges were directed to ensure statements of witnesses be recorded on day to day basis. The Respondent state were asked to take all steps to have Medical Officers and subordinate staff permanently appointed in every jail. Besides, every jail was to be provided with Ambulances . It was also directed that the lodgement of the undertrials in jails shall be nearer to the courts where their cases were pending. The members of the Bar Association under orders from the Hon’ble court are visiting the jails personally to observe the conditions prevalent in these prisons .Reports have been submitted to High Court from time to time. The lodgement of prisoners is governed under the provisions of ‘The Prisons Act’ , ‘The Prisoners Act’ and detenues are governed by ‘The J&K Detenues [General] Order 1968 promulgated vide SRO -9 of 1968. Besides, these provisions the State is obliged to observe the standards prescribed in International Resolutions, Conventions and Covenants from time to time . The State is obliged to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another[ Article 51©of COI. The State is obliged to follow and observe the provisions of ‘International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.’ And body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any form of Imprisonment vide Resolution No: 43/173 of 9th Dec 1988 which prescribe , inter alia, that , All persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and , Arrest, detention or imprisonment shall only be carried out strictly in accordance with the provisions of the law and by competent officials or persons authorized for that purpose. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the human rights of persons under any form of detention or imprisonment recognized or existing in any State pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that this Body of Principles does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent. Further that, Any form of detention or imprisonment and all measures affecting the human rights of a person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be ordered by, or be subject to the effective control of, a judicial or other authority.