Orissa HC looks into the issue of overcrowding of jails; asks IG Prison for report; Reprimanded ad hoc measures and rather asked for a long term plan

Orissa High Court: A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar, CJ and S.K. Panigrahi, J. gave a slew of directions regarding the issue of overcrowding in jails.

The instant case came up before the Court via videoconferencing to address the issue of overcrowding in jails.

Amicus Curiae (AC) Mr Gautam Misra, submitted that the figure of the present population in Odisha especially based on one district jail at Phulbani, one Special Sub-Jail at Bhadrak and eleven sub-jails in each of which the overcrowding ranges between 161 to 260% as available on the website of the Inspector General (I.G.), Prisons was last updated on 31-05-2021.

State filed affidavits and submitted that as of 3rd June 2021, 737 convicted prisoners were released on Special Parole (furlough) for a period of 90 days each pursuant to the order dated 7th May 2021 passed by the Supreme Court of India in Suo Motu W.P.(C) No.1 of 2020 and 89 convicted prisoners were released on furlough for a period of 14 days each during the months of April and May, 2021.

Few Facts submitted with regard to Overcrowding

  1. Steps are being taken for release of 106 life convicts who are recommended by the State Sentence Review Board on different dates for premature release.
  2. As regards to overcrowding, as of 3rd June, 2021, 1239 inmates have been shifted/being shifted from overcrowded jails to less populated jails.
  3. Government buildings with adequate security, secured boundary walls order to accommodate prisoners” are being selected for Temporary prisons.
  4. As of 31st May, 2021 the excess present population in Bhadrak was 242%, in Malkangiri it was 214%, in Paralekhamundi it was 209%, in Nayagarh it was 163% and in Jajpur it was 220%.
  5. As on 31st May, 2021 the present population is 237 in Kodala Sub-Jail where the scheduled accommodation is 93 and the excess is 255%. In Nuapada Sub-Jail there are 125 prisoners whereas the scheduled accommodation is 48, thereby having an excess of 260%.

Female and Male Inmates above 60 years

The Court relied on Suo Motu v. State of Madhya Pradesh in W.P. (C) No.9320 of 2021and directed to consider suggestions by AC regarding female prisoners as well as male prisoners above the age of 60 years.

The Court held affidavit be filed by the IG Prisons updating the statistics and the exact numbers of prison inmates shifted from one jail to the other, or to some other suitable location and asked IG Prisons to remain present in virtual mode with the relevant records to answer any query concerning the said affidavit.

The Court held “rather than ad hoc measures which serve only the present needs, a long term plan to deal with the issue of overcrowding in prisons has to be drawn up on urgent basis and be placed before this Court before the next date.”

The case is next listed for 26-08-2021.[Krushna Prasad Sahoo v. State of Odisha, 2021 SCC OnLine Ori 984, decided on 16-07-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioners- Mr Gautam Misra,

For Opposite Parties- Mr M.S. Sahoo

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