Kathua Jail Visit …25th November 2016
District Jail Kathua
conducted by a team of lawyers from the
High Court Bar Association
25th November 2016
Prompted by the requests of parents of persons arrested during the summer unrest who have been lodged in jails away from their home districts the Bar Association conducted the annual jail visit of jails in Jammu region on dates 24-26 November 2016. Kathua Jail was visited in pursuance of orders issued by the Hon’ble High Court in MP No: 1 in OWP No: 767/2006 case titled High Court Bar Association vs State of J&K & Ors. Various issues relating to welfare of detenues in the state jails were raised in this public interest litigation petition and the Hon’ble Court has passed various orders and directions from time to relating to welfare and wellbeing of the inmates especially the category of political detenues incarcerated by the reckless use of draconian laws like J&K PSA etc.
A team of lawyers comprising of Advocate Aejaz Bedar Vice President, , Ad Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, Ad Anwar ul Islam Shaheen –Jt Secretary, Mohammad Shafi Reshi and Ad Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, Advocate Arshad Andrabi, Ad Nasir Qadri and Ad Mudassir Yousuf Dar. District Jail Kathua was visited on 25th November 2016.
According to the figures available the number of inmates category wise is shown as under :
S.No Category Male Female Total
1/ Convicts R.I 05 01 06
Convicts S.I 00 00 00
2/ Undertrials C/L 78 04 82
Undertrials [Militants] 00 00 00
3/ Detenues [A Class ] 00 00 00
Detenues [B Class ] 00 00 00
Detenues [C Class ] 159 00 159
4/ Civil Prisoners 01 00 01
5/ Foreign Nationals 05 00 05 .
Total 248 04 252
Kathua jail is one of the overcrowded jails of the state . Against a maximum capacity of 250 there are 252 inmates in the prison. The Superintendent of jail has informed Government that there is no more capacity in this jail. A doctor from the local hospital is put on call in addition to his own duties. He usually visits the jail once in a week. The inmates however, were not satisfied about the provision of medical facilities in the jail. The jail staff including the Superintendent Bhushan Lal Bali and Ashok Kumar Safaya were cooperative and facilitated the visit of the lawyers team and their interaction with the inmates. A computerized list of detenues related to militancy related cases and a detainees shown to have been lodged under Common law was provided.
After looking at the condition of the jail and interacting with the inmates, it was observed that the inmates in this jail are feeling frustrated and are under mental stress due to the fact that they have been lodged in a jail far away from their home places/districts and it becomes difficult for their family members, relatives and friends to have interaction with them. Besides, they feel that there is neither any progress in the trials of cases registered against them in various police stations ,nor are they satisfied about the progress of Habeas Corpus petitions filed on their behalf in the High Court. The Government is issuing orders of extension in the period of their detention and these orders are not communicated to the detenues, their families and their lawyers resulting in the prolongation of their detention despite expiry of the period of their detention ordered in the initial order and even after quashment of the detention orders by the High Court. The I/c of the detenue section pointed out that even the notices received from the registry of the Hon’ble High court do not contain sufficient particulars which results in delay in response from the jail office. According to him the matter was taken up with the Registry but needs to be followed up. In most of the cases, the initial period of detention is shown to be three months which is later on extended through the issuance of another order/letter by the Home Deptt. The order of the extension is not often communicated to the detenue in time and is not either communicated to the concerned lawyers, with the result even after the quashment of the order of detension the inmates is not released from custody. Furthermore, the illegal interference of the CID/CIK continues and ever after the quashment the detainees are handed over to the these agency and it is they who decide about the actual release or extension in the period of detention of a detainee. This kind of action on the face of it appears to be illegal and unconstitutional. In most of the cases , this action amounts to contempt of court orders and needs to be dealt as such. Likewise, even after qaushment of the initial order of detention , the detenue is not released on the excuse that the court order does not mention the extension letter which is often not communicated to the detenue and does not find a mention in the order of qaushment. In this way several detenues have to remain inside jail premises despite their order of detention having been declared illegal by the High Court. The prolonged detention in this manner is a defiance of the court orders and amounts to a failure of due process and rule of law in the state. This is a serious reflection on the state of rights of citizens in the state who have to face incarceration under draconian preventive laws like J&K PSA which has been declared as a “Lawless Law” in the Amnesty international Report in 2010. This law has been used recklessly during the present summer and numerous citizens have to remain behind the bars far away from their homes . This law has the effect of defeating the trials of the criminal cases registered in local police stations as the detenues are rarely brought to court to face their trails. It was found that this jail is one of the overcrowded jails which lacks most of the basic facilities.
As per the facts revealed in the interviews of detainees and discussions held with jail authorities it was a surprise to learn that no inmate has been taken to any court during the year 2016.The main reason being that the jail authorities are at the mercy of District Police to provide escort to take detneues to the court premises on due dates, but due to lack of escort facilities the presence of the detainees in the courts on due dates becomes impossible and their trials get prolonged. This situation has resulted not only in a failure of justice and a denial of basic rights of citizens to a fair and speedy trial but also to a frustration amongst the inmates.
The under trials who had interaction with Bar team were :
1. Masarat Alam Bhat S/o Abdul Majeed Bhat R/o Zaindar Mohalla, Srinagar. The detenue is presently incarcerated under Orders of DM Baramulla No: 85/DMB/PSA /2016 dt:01.09.2016.
The case of Masarat Alam is a case in point which shows that the Government in the State has not respect for rule of law and can use the draconian laws repeatedly to curtail the liberty of citizens in the face of court orders and judicial decsions. The courts several times coming down heavily on the Jammu and Kashmir Police for what it called the “extra-judicial detention” of separatist leader Masarat Alam, observed that “situations like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay cannot be tolerated”. Several times bail was granted to Masarat Alam in various cases and latest bail was granted by a Budgam court ordering Alam to furnish two surety bonds and a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh each for his release, the court observed: “The police station doesn’t require him for custodial interrogation in police remand, but seeks his judicial custody… This kind of custody, in the opinion of this court, amounts to extra-judicial custody which cannot be sanctioned by any legal means.” But in the face of such judicial orders and observation Masarat Alam was on rearrested, a day after his release on a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order quashing his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).Government announced that “Alam will not be released as he has several cases pending against him”. The Police took a stand that he got released, technically, from the PSA and he gets arrested in the cases already registered against him. Naturally, he has been re-arrested in (connection with) the pending cases.” “He has several cases pending against him…He will continue to be under arrest…though his (detention under) PSA has been quashed,” the officer said. Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on quashed the PSA detention of the 45-year-old political activist .It is reported that an FIR under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, relevant sections of Ranbir Penal Code was registered in Budgam police station against Alam and other separatist leaders. Presently he is suffering incarceration under JK PSA slapped on his 34th time. Present order passed by the DM Baramulla is equally illegal and unjustified. DM Baramulla No: 85/DMB/PSA /2016 dt:01.09.2016. The order was executed on 4.9.2016 and is expiring on 3.12.2106. No Review Board has been constituted till date. He complained that although some newspapers are provided to the inmates , yet some of the news items pertaining to condition of detenues and existence of medical facilities etc are cut from the newspapers by the jail authorities. The jail staff explained that the newspapers are reporting factually inocorrect situation about the health of the detneues which cannot be allowed to be read by the detainess as it is likely to cause unrest in the jail and create law and order problmes. The case of Tariq Ahmad Ganai was cited as a case in point.
2. Tariq Ahmad Ganai ,age 39 S/o Mohammad Yaqoob Ganai R/o Ganai Mohalla , Memender Shopian is under detention under the authority of orders issued by DM Shopian vide Order No: 42/DMS/PSA/2016 dt: 27.8.2016. The order is shown to be executed on 31.8.2016. No meeting of SAB has been conducted till date. He has been shown to belong to Tehreek Hurriyat[G]. He has been complaining of pain in stomach, Blood Pressure, Diabetes and complication in Kidney. He has narrated the same condition to his relatives who came to meet him after travellign 400 kms. The matter has been reported in newspapers alleging carelessness on the part of jail authorities. The jail staff referred to his medical file and showed that he has been examined by the cardiologist and physician in District Hospital Kathua. The Physician has observed that he requires psychiatric consultation also. Since no such facilities are available in this far flung district there is every possibility that such a situation will increase the frustration and anxiety in the inmates. The present system of jail management is insufficiently equipped to deal with the problems and these overcrowded jails are becoming places of torture and harassment for the inmates. The jail authorities referred to various rehabilitation steps taken during this year to provide teaching help through the staff deputed by DSEJ in various subjects who are provided coaching to the students detained during the summer.
3. Mohamamd Yousuf Bhat S/o Gh Ahmad Bhat R/o Melhoora Zainpora Shopian.
4. Junaid Ahmad Rather S/o Abdul Rashid Rather R/o Audooora, Sheeri Baramulla
5. Sameer Ahmad Laway S/o Bashir Ahmad Laway R/o Chawalgam Kulgam
6. Mohamamd Amin Parray S/o Gh Nabi Parray R/o Kumdalan Shopian.
7. Muzamil Hussain Seh S/o Mohammad Hussain Seh R/o Poterwal, Keegam- Shopian
8. Jahangir Ahmad Malik S/o gh Qadir Malik R/o Kilora Shopian
9. Irfan Bashir Tantray S/o Bashir Ahmad Tantray R/o Baghat Batpora Sopore.
10. Mohammad Subhan Wani S/o Gh Mohammad Wani R/o Beigh Mohalla Dangerpora Sopore.
11. Tariq Ahmad Ganai S/o Mohammad Yaqoob Ganai R/o Ganai Mohalla , Membnder Shopian
12. Nissar Ahmad Rather S/o Abdul Aziz Rather R/o Rather pora Dadsara, Awantipora Distt Pulwama
13. Arshid Ahmad Thoker S/o Gh Rasool Thoker R/o Gudoora Pulwama
14. Kifayat Ahmad Bhat S/o Fayaz Ahmad Bhat R/o Ashmuji Kulgam
15. Nazir Ahmad Ganai S/o Gh Rasool Ganai Fatehpora, Ganderbal
16. Mohsin Hamed Malla S/o Ab Hameed Malla R/o Saripora, Rafiabad.
17. Mohammad Shaban Dar S/o Gh Nabi Dar R/o Madina Colony, Mazbugh, Sopore
18. Mohammad Shaban Khan S/o Habibullah Khan R/o Chinkpora Sopore
19. Abdul Rashid Dar S/o Gh Mohammad Dar R/o Kulpora, Litter Pulwama
20. Manzoor Ahmad Lone S/o Gh Nabi Lone R/o Lelhar Kakpora Pulwama