SC slams Centre, states for ‘pathetic condition’ in jails

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday lashed out at the Centre and states over “pathetic condition” in jails and observation homes for children across the country, saying everything has been reduced to a “joke”.

“Please visit jails and observation homes for children to see the condition. Ask your officials to get out of their offices…taps are not working, toilets are not working… they are all blocked…they are in a pathetic condition,” said the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta.

The court expressed serious concern over the media reports that real estate major Unitech’s Managing Director Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay currently lodged in Tihar Jail have been provided with TV, crates of mineral waters and the household matters.

“Let the people go to jail. Enjoy life and have a good time”, the court said pointing to several instance of powerful people getting all the facilities they are not authorised otherwise.

The court also referred to the report prepared by an additional session judge blaming the Tihar jail authorities for allowing TV, crates of mineral waters and the household matters to Chandra brother – who are in jail for allegedly cheating house buyers.

Asking if a “parallel system” was operating in the jails, Justice Lokur referred to reports from other states where bigwigs and powerful people were getting all the facilities in connivance with the jail staff.

“Every now and then articles are appearing .. in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, inmantes possessing mobile phones, running show from the jail”, said Justice Lokur

“You have converted the whole thing into a joke,” Justice Lokur said, taking umbrage to the “callous and insensitive approach” of the government machinery towards improving conditions in the jails and observation homes.

Taking a dig at the way the Centre and the state governments were addressing the issue of ameliorating the conditions in jails, Justice Lokur said: “That is why two judges of this court felt agitated because they saw what is happening.”

Justice Lokur was referring to the visit of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (since retired) and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit to jails and observations homes in Haryana that triggered judicial scrutiny of the conditions in jails and observation homes across the country.

The court also pulled up the Centre for its indifferent approach towards the three-member committee headed by former top court judge Justice Amitava Roy set up to oversee the implementation of prison reforms.