Inspection of Prisons: A Mere Formality?

July 30th, 201010:38 pm @    


It has been alleged by a Maharashtra minister that Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa receive special treatment in the jail in collusion with the prison authorities. The Home Minister of the state, Mr. R. R. Patil has promised a visit to the Arthur Road jail to take stock of the situation after ongoing monsoon session gets over.

It has been indicated that Mustafa Dossa receives big Tiffin boxes and there are pictures of semi nude women pasted on the walls of Abu Salem’s cell. These allegations should not be taken so lightly and immediate action must be taken to find the truth considering the fact that both the prisoners have been booked for serious offences and have prominent underworld connections.

The minister intends to pay an announced visit. Will this do any good? Does he expect to find pictures of semi nude women in the cell? Why will the prisoner authorities risk their own exposure? Even if they are providing these high profile prisoners any luxury then I don’t think that they stupid enough to do the same on the day inspection! Is it very tough to jerk out those pictures and so that a clean image can be projected in front of the minister?

Such inspections are farce and a fine mockery of how law functions in our country. There have been numerous reports from across the country of such special treatment of prisoners with resources. Restaurant food, mobile phones, T.V, Cigarettes etc are some of the examples of how prison officials pamper them just because these prisoners are influential and can give a handsome bribe. The poor administration system is responsible for such incidences. There are some jails where prisoners are destitute and are denied even the basic amenities to live with dignity in the prison. It seems that the mantra –‘If you have money you have everything’ works in Indian jails as well!


Reforms which should be brought about immediately in the prison administration system in India:

The government needs to bring drastic reforms in the administration of prisons in India. The following measures may prove effective to curb such foul practices prevailing in prisons of our country:

  1. Surprise and frequent inspection of prisons. But there must be an element of true surprise. Usually a phone call regarding the possible inspection reaches to the jail authorities much before the team reaches the premises.
  2. The inspection must be taken up by persons who are not in police services. Like the Minister in-charge, IAS/IPS officers etc. Even activists from NGO’s and respected/senior members of the society can be included in the team so that a fair and impartial result could be achieved.
  3. If the prison officials are found to be working in collusion with the prisoners then the whole staff must be suspended with an immediate effect and their services must be terminated after a detailed investigation of their actions.
  4. Our system does not deal with corrupt police officers severely. Mere suspension and transfer to a different place doesn’t discourage such practices. Stringent punishment for such police officer may have a deterring effect on others.
  5. Cameras should be installed in all the jail premises and recording should be reviewed by the government to find any misdoings on part of the internal administration.

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Nikita is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of MightyLaws.in. She is a lawyer/author residing in Delhi. She believes that increasing legal awareness is the key to ensure social justice and simplification of law is the means to achieve it. She writes articles on social and political issues for various platforms in English and Hindi.

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