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Overcrowding in Orissa jails a cause of concern: HC

Says it is time to look at best practices in vogue in other parts of the world

Orissa High Court has directed State Directorate of Prison and Correctional Services to address the issue of overcrowding in jails by adopting best practices in vogue in other parts of the world.

Hearing a public interest litigation, a division bench comprising Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice B.P. Routray said it was important to find out how far such practices could be adopted for implementation in Odisha.

The bench observed that the situation continued to be a cause of great concern, as a large number of prisons had 20% more inmates than it should accommodate and in a substantial number this was beyond 50%.

“Even at the jail in Bhubaneswar, the scheduled accommodation is 749 whereas the present prisoner population is 1006. The situation is as bad in Malkangiri. There the scheduled accommodation is 314, whereas the current inmate population is 679. In Bhadrak jail, the scheduled accommodation is 166, the current population is 415,” judges said.

In the course of hearing this week, the Deputy Inspector General of Prisons had informed the HC about measures being taken to tackle overcrowding.

“As per action plan for 2020-21 and 2021-22 approved by the State government for construction of additional wards in different jails of the State, it is expected that the scheduled capacity of some of the jails will be upgraded to accommodate 2994 more prisoners,” the HC was informed.

The action plan says a new jail building of special sub-jail, Bhadrak, will be constructed with an enhanced capacity of 460.

The HC division bench, however, wanted to know how the additional capacity of 2994 would be distributed across the jails in the State as the affidavit by government did not indicate any time schedules for completion of projects.

The Director General of Prisons and the Advocate General assured the HC that a meeting involving all stakeholders would be convened in the next two weeks.

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