Mumbai: The Divine Help Foundation, a charitable trust registered under the Bombay Charitable Trust, has issued a show cause notice on June 30 to the Superintendent of Arthur Road Jail and to the additional chief secretary of the home department on overcrowding at the jail three times over its sanctioned strength. The sanctioned capacity of the prison is 804 prisoners.
According to Sayyed Miya Ali Miya Sayyed, the managing trustee of the Divine Help Foundation, “Some prisoners who had been released from the Arthur Road Jail had approached the Divine Help Foundation that the living conditions at the jail are vulnerable. There is a serious question of violation of human rights at the jail. When more prisoners are accommodated than its capacity, prisoners are treated inhumanely. They suffer from health problems and the food served is pathetic. We had made an application in May under the Right to Information Act seeking information of the capacity of prisoners at the jail. The prisoners at the jail are suffering from from acute mental stress due to bad living conditions.”
“We have issued a show cause notice to the Superintendent of Arthur Road Jail and to the additional chief secretary of the home department as to why the number of prisoners lodged is thrice the sanctioned strength of 804. Why is the government not making arrangements as per the sanctioned capacity or in any other place in order to accommodate the prisoners and what steps are being taken by the government of Maharashtra to accommodate the extra prisoners,” added Sayyed.
As per the Right To Information (RTI) data sought by the NGO, 2,844 prisoners were lodged at the jail on May 25. The next day, the number of prisoners increased to 2897. On May 27, the number increased to 2,819. On May 28, the number of inmates at the jail were 2,809 while on May 29, it was 2,797. On May 30, there were 2,779 prisoners, while on May 31 there were 2,766 inmates.
As per the show cause notice available with The Free Press Journal, the state government and the superintendent of the jail are hereby called upon to submit a reply to the Divine Help Foundation within the two months statutory period, failing which the NGO shall initiate legal proceedings. The notice has been served under Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code. According to Harshad Ahirrao, superintendent of Arthur Road Jail, “We are in receipt of the notice. I cannot comment on this matter.”