Bar President visits Baramulla Jail… inmates without basic amenities
Report regarding District Jail Baramulla
In pursuance of the orders of the Hon’ble High court passed in IA No. 312/2014 filed in case OWP No. 767/2006 tilted J&K High Court Bar Association versus State of J&K and others, a two member team of the Bar Association comprised of;
1. Mian Abdul Qayoom, Advocate, President.
2. Arshid Andrabi, Advocate, Executive Member.
Visited District Jail Baramulla on 13th of February, 2015 to interact with the prisoners lodged there in militancy related and other cases. The members were told by the jail authorities that there are 163 prisoners lodged in the jail, out of whom around 50 are involved in militancyrelated cases and the rest are facing trial in different cases of civil nature. The team members were also told that there are two prisoners detained under PSA. One belongs to Pakistan and is awaiting his deportation and the other is Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been lodged in the jail pursuant to the orders of District Magistrate, Jammu.
Masarat Alam Bhat stated before the team members that he has been ordered to be detained by District Magistrate Jammu under PSA and he is lodged in the jail from 23.09.2014. He said that from October, 2010 it is his 6th consecutive order of detention. Since all his earlier orders were quashed by the High Court and in all othercases he was granted bail by the courts of competent jurisdiction but even then he has not been released. He as such has not challenged his last order of detention before any court because the Govt. doesnot obey the orders of the court and no one takes them to task. He said that though there is no period of detention mentioned in the order of his detention but it can at best last for six months only.
He said that District Jail Baramulla is catering for the detenues and undertrial prisoners of District Baramulla and District Bandipora and there is a problem of drinking water in the jail. He said that water is brought in tankers or is provided from the bore-wells, which is not safe for drinking purposes. He said that there is no purifier in the jail. He said that 3 days back a snake emerged from the bore well water, which was being used by the prisoners of Barack No. 3 for drinking purposes. He said that the committee constituted by the Division Bench of the High Court for visiting the jailonce in two months, to know the difficulties of prisoners has not visited the jail ever since he has been lodged in the jail. He said that on the asking of the jail authorities the 1st Additional District Judge, Baramulla had visited the jail on 14.11.2014 and had promised to look into their grievances,but he did not kept his word. He said that PHE department is providing running tape water to the inhabitants of Khawjabagh Baramulla, which locality is outside the jail gate but the said water is not provided to the inmates for extraneous reasons. He said that the power supply to the jail is also erratic and often it remains off for 5 to 6 hours at a stretch. He said that during night, there is always no power supply. He said that there is no TV or Radio facility available in a number of Barracks in the jail. He said that the inmates of Barack no. 2,4,5,7 and 8 have purchased and installed their own TV sets in their respective barracks. He said that the jail authorities are providing one Mattress and one quilt to each inmate as his bedding, which in winter months, is by no means sufficient or adequate. He said that every inmate, for protecting himself from winter, has purchased his own bedding. He said that the drainage system in the jail is a total failure. He said that even though sockage pits have been covered but the drains are open and in summer, these drains are so stinking that the prisoners are unable to open the windows or doors of their barracks. He said that while in police custody, they have to pay for their food and during their police or judicial custody, they have to pay from their own pocket for X-Ray, ECG or any other medical test. He said that before they are received in jail, the police has to get them medically examined and for this medical examination also they are forced to pay for X-Ray, ECG etc. He said that food is provided to them in the jail @ Rs. 74/- per head for both times viz morning and evening. He said that on a festival day only Rs. 10/- are added to Rs. 74/- and on that date they are given food items worth Rs. 84/- for two times.He said that there is no doctor/dentistor a male/female nurse in the jail to provide medical assistance to the prisoners and even when a prisoner is required to be taken to the hospital, it is refused on the ground that no police escort is available in the jail. He said that there is no electrician or any plumber in the jail. He said that there is no teacher/guide in the jail to teach and guide the inmates. He said that there are two posts of Safaiwalas in the jail, but only one has been filled. There is no Psychologist in the jail to treat the inmates.
Mohammad Altaf Lone stated that he is in the jail for the last 08 years as an undertrial prisoner and his case under section 302 RPC is pending in court of 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Baramulla. He said that under Jail Manual as well interms of a notification issued by the Govt. in October, 2014 there has to be a quarterly review of the cases of undertrial prisoners but no such review of his case has taken place so far. He said that for not expediting the hearing of the cases of undertrial prisoners and also for not conducting any review, the prisoners in Baramulla jail are suffering badly. He said that the jail authorities are also not providing them any assistance to redeem their sufferings. There are no doctors in the jail. He said that there is no public prosecutor in the court of Sessions Judge Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Sheeri Ex-P.P. tendered his resignation in the month of November, 2014 but till date no PP has been appointed by the Govt. He said that his case should have ended a long time back but due to the delay tactics adopted by the prosecution and the casual approach adopted by the court it is still pending.
Mohammad Iqbal Mokhdoomistatedthat he is in the jail for the last 4 months and his case under section 302 RPC is also pending in the court of 1st Additional Sessions Judge Baramulla who is dragging on the proceedings of his case unnecessarily.
Nasir Ahmad Ganaistatedthat he is facing trial in FIR No. 264/2011 registered by police under section 302 RPC against him and Nissar Ahmad Bhat, Abdul Ahad Dar and Parvaiz Ahmad and the said case is pending in the court of Sessions Judge, Baramulla. He said that though Parvaiz Ahmad has been bailed out but their bail application has not been decided by the court so far. He said that their case is also not progressing because there are 19 more persons, shown as accused in the case and though they are available, they are not being arrested by the police and brought before the court as a result of which they are suffering.
Hilal Ahmad Palla, Nazir Ahmad Lone and Aijaz Ahmad Darstatedthat they are in the jail for the last 4 years and they are facing trial in FIR No. 13/2011 registered by Police Station Kreeri under section 302 RPC against them. They said that other accused in the case are Bashir Ahmad Bukhari, Mohammad Ashraf Kumar, Abdul Hamid Mir and Mohammad Ashraf Mir and the case is now pending in a court at Srinagar. They said that they got the case transferred to Srinagar because it was not making any head way at Baramulla.
Firdous Hussainstatedthat he alongwith Shabir Ahmad Mir is facing trial in a case registered by police station Pattan against them u/s 302 RPC. He said that he and Shabir Ahmad are in the jail for the last 7 years and their case is pending at Baramulla. He said that in their case also the court is dragging on the proceedings unnecessarily and he is not sure as to when the case will end one way or the other.
Nissar Ahmad Darstatedthat he and Ashfaq Ahmad Mir are in the jail for the last 1 ½ years and their case under section 302 RPC is pending in Sessions Court Baramulla which is going on at a snail’s pace.
Aaqib Ahmad Darstatedthat he and Mohammad Asif Dar are in the jail for the last 1 ½ years and they are facing trial in a case registered by police against them under section 302 RPC. He said that during last 1 ½ years the case has not proceeded in any manner and they are languishing in jail for none of their faults.
Ghulam Rasool Lonestatedthat he alongwith Ghulam Mohammad Ganai, Sameer Ahmad Lone, Abdul Majid Lone, Abdul Rashid Lone, Abdul Sattar, Mohammad Latief, Abdul Gaffar and Khursheed Ahmad are in the jail for the last 3 years and they have also been booked in a false case registered by police u/s 302 RPC against them. He said that during last three years the case has made no progress and they don’t know as to when the case will terminate.
Feroz Ahmad Darstatedthathe has been booked alongwith Hafiz Naveed Balooch and Fahdulla in a false case registered by police u/s 302 RPC and they are in the jail for the last 1 ½ years. He said that the court at Baramulla is protracting the trial of their case unnecessarily and their right to speedy trial has been violated by the court with impunity.
All the aforesaid persons stated before the Bar team that when they are taken to the court, they are handcuffed brutally. They said that handcuffs are very old and rusty. These handcuffs are not only harmful but hazardous as well and give them lot of pain. They said that even though the Supreme Court has denounced and forbidden the use of handcuffing of accused in 1983 but in their case the Supreme Court directions are observed in breach. They said that they had requested the jail as well as the jail authorities, at least, to replace these handcuffs with new ones but they have not paid any heed to their request.
The Bar team also talked to the Superintendent of jail namely Bashir Ahmad Malla who has been posted in the jail in the month of July, 2014. He said that the inmates are suffering because there is shortage of staff. He said that from 2005 there has been no recruitment. He said that a post of Doctor has been sanctioned for the jail but it has not been filled so far. He admitted that outside the jail premises, the people of Khawjabagh locality have a regular running water supply but the PHE authorities are not extending the said facility to the jail for unknown reasons. He said that he has written to the Govt. about the erratic power supply and about the water supply and other amenities required to be provided to the inmates and he is hopeful that his demands would be met. He said that during his tenure the team appointed by the High Court and required to visit the jail once in two months has not visited the jail. He admitted that there is no psychiatrist/a teacher/a guide available in the jail to advise the inmates and provide them some kind of solace. He said that food is provided to the inmates through contract system and its quantity sometimes goes up and sometimes down. He said that whenever the inmates raise any genuine demand he tries to satisfy that.
From the interaction, which the team had with the prisoners and with jail authorities, the team members have come to an irresistible conclusion that the condition of the prisoners of Baramulla jail is pathetic. The Supreme Court way back in 1983 has said that no undertrial prisoner, while being taken to the court, for a hearing should be handcuffed but this direction of the Supreme Court is observed in breach in Baramulla jail and the prisoners are taken to the court handcuffed in old and rusty handcuffs which are causing lot of pain and agony to them.
The inmates are being given food items worth Rs. 74/- for two times every day and one can easily imagine as to what quantity and what quality of food the inmates would be getting every day. The prisoners, on account of bedding, are given one mattress and one quilt each in summer as well as in winters, which by no means can be termed to be sufficient or adequate. The water supply is through tankers or from bore wells and as there is no purifier in the jail the inmates are forced to take sometimes unclean and sometimes muddy or dirty water. The jail is located in Khawjabagh locality and in the said locality people have regular supply of tape water, but the said facility is not being extended to the jail. The power supply to the jail is also erratic. There are regular cuts of 5 to 8 hours in the supply of electricity every day. During night there is absolutely no electricity. There is no doctor or a nurse in the jail. There is no plumber and no electrician also. There are two posts of Safaiwalas in the jail but only one has been filled and the incumbent of the post doesnot also attend to his duties regularly because he often remains ill. There is nor teacher or a guide available in the jail to teach, guide and advise the inmates so as to redeem their sufferings. The drains of the sockage pits are open as such they are stinking and the foul smell doesnot allow the inmates to open the windows or doors during summer months. These drains needed to be covered but no steps have been taken by the jail authorities to cover those drains. The inmates are also not allowed to play any game in the jail. They should have at least been allowed to play volley ball, table tennis or even badminton to keep themselves fit and the required equipment’s should have been provided to them, but the jail authorities have not done so, for unknown reasons.
A person while in jail is entitled to enjoy all amenities of life. All those aspects of life which make a person to live with dignity are included in the meaning of life. The prisoner has a right to speedy trial as well and his case has to be heard on day to day basis.
All the inmates of Baramulla jail who are facing trial in the courts at Baramulla have serious grievance about the courts over there. They say that the judges are protracting the trial of their cases unnecessarily. They say that for the last four months there is no public prospector in the court of Sessions Judge Baramulla and their cases are adjourned by the court due to the non-availability of P. Some of the prisoners are languishing in jail for the last 7/8 years and according to them they are not sure as to when their cases would end one way or the other. They said that while in police custody they are forced to pay for their diet and medical expenses, which is contrary to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in DK Basu’s case (1997 SC 610). They said that they would have brought their problems and sufferings to the notice of the members of the committee constituted by the High Court, for each jail, which is required to visit the jail once in every two months but the members of the said committee viz. District Judge Baramulla, District Magistrate Baramulla, SSP Baramulla and Chief Medical Officer Baramulla have not taken the trouble of visiting the jail though on each Friday they assemble in police lines, for Friday prayers and spent some time after the prayers over there. The jail is at a stone’s throw from police lines. The failure of these committee members to visit the jail has also compounded the sufferings and miseries of the inmates and they seek some kind of redressal of their grievances from the High Court.
The Bar team assured the inmate of Baramulla jail that their problems will be highlighted by the Bar through Press and other modes and the High Court will also be approached and requested to pass necessary orders so as to redress their grievances.
The Bar team on its way back went to Palhallan as well and expressed their sympathy and solidarity with the family members of Farooq Ahmad who was martyred on 09.02.2015 by brutal forces and assured them of all possible legal help.
1. Mian Abdul Qayoom, Advocate, President.
2. Arshid Andrabi, Advocate, Executive Member.
Copy forwarded to :
1. Registrar Judicial J&K High Court, Srinagar, for placing the same on the record of O.W.P. No. 767/06 titled J&K High Court Bar Association versus State of J&K for the perusal of the Hon’ble High Court.
2. To the Press for wide publication.
3. Office file for record.