New Delhi, Mar 5 The Delhi High Court today expressed concern over the unhygienic conditions outside the newly-commissioned Mandoli Jail here, which houses over 3,500 prisoners and staff.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar warned the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) of initiating contempt action for not complying with its earlier orders and directed it to take steps to clean up the area in one week.
The prison comes under EDMC area.
The bench's direction came after it was informed by advocate Sumer Kumar Sethi, who was appointed as amicus curiae by the court to assist it, that prisoners and officials were disturbed because of pollution and smoke emanating from waste burning by factories and scrap dealers just outside the prison's jail no. 13 and 14.
He also informed the court that senior jail officers had told him that at times, they had noticed a black layer of ashes on windows, plants and other parts of the jail, and there used to be a "cloud of smoke that covers the jail once the burning of waste etc begins".
The court also perused a status report and some photos filed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), which had conducted an inspection of the area, and noted that the civic body had not complied with its several orders on solid waste management rules bye-laws.
"EDMC, which participated in the proceedings of solid waste management rules bye-laws has not implemented the bye-laws effectively. This non-action will invite contempt against the authorities. We are not doing it at this stage.
"Over 3500 prisoners and jail staff are continuously lodged in Mandoli jail with such unhygienic conditions... EDMC Commissioner to ensure that steps are taken to clean the area in one week. DPCC is directed to conduct fresh inspection of the area around the jail 10 days thereafter," the bench said.
The bench was hearing a PIL initiated by it last year after several prisoners moved the high court complaining about the inhuman conditions and lack of medical and employment facilities at the Mandoli Jail here.
The prisoners had written letters to the high court about their plight inside the jail.
During the hearing, the Delhi government's standing counsel for criminal matters, Rahul Mehra, pointed out the shortage of trained counsellors in jails, family courts, juvenile justice boards and observation homes.
The court observed that the government has failed to provide counsellors in these places due to which contract counsellors were being appointed.
"Not only there is no job security for counsellors, but they are also working on lump sum consideration without other benefits available to other salaried employees," the bench said.
It directed the government to positively file a status report regarding the status of counsellors within three weeks and listed the matter for April 3 .
The bench had earlier asked the Director General of Prisons to inspect the Tihar Jail here to ascertain whether the inmates have access to medical and basic facilities like sufficient number of toilets.
The high court had issued the directions based on a news report which said that a court in the United Kingdom had refused India's request to extradite a suspected bookie as it felt that the conditions in which he would be kept in Tihar Jail would be a violation of his human rights.
To decongest the Tihar Jail in west Delhi, two other jails -- one at Rohini in northwest Delhi and another at Mandoli in east Delhi, were made operational in December 2004 and October 2016 respectively.
The Mandoli complex, which has six prisons, can house 3,776 inmates. Tihar and Rohini jails have 14,469 prisoners as against the sanctioned strength of 6,250.
The letters had complained of pathetic living conditions in the jail, besides the lack of medical facilities, employment opportunities and faulty punishment procedures allegedly being implemented by the jail administration.
As per the Tihar Jail Manual, the inmates who are handed out jail terms, are imparted education, useful skills and lessons to respect the law. It aims to improve the inmates' self-esteem and strengthen their desire to improve.
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