The Taloja Central prison in Navi Mumbai is yet to receive money from the Maharashtra government to purchase more books for its library as ordered by the Bombay High Court during a hearing of a bail plea filed by activist Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case.
While responding to a Right to Information (RTI) application, the authorities of the Taloja prison have said the prison library currently has 2,998 books for over 3,000 inmates lodged in the facility.
In its response last week, the Taloja prison authorities said that they had not purchased any new books in the last three years as no money had been received by them, either because of its own policy or following the high court order.
“We are yet to receive the money as directed by the Bombay High Court following its April 7, 2022 order (imposing cost and saying it be diverted for purchase of books),” read the RTI reply.
The issue of books in the prison library came to light after the authorities there refused to allow Teltumbde access to a book by British author P G Wodehouse in April sent by his family, citing “security risk”.
When this was pointed out to the HC during a hearing in Teltumbde’s bail plea, HC then had asked the government and the authorities to spruce up the prison library.
This had prompted the HC to ask if “humour had been banished from the prison?”, and it had sought a list of books that were provided in the prison library to inmates.
The state government had at the time said that while the Taloja prison did not have many books, it was not a problem since "not every inmate read books."
The government pleader had said that the Taloja prison library had "roughly around 2,800 books".
At the time, the court had remarked that even a secondary school library will have more books than the Taloja prison.
On April 7, a bench led by Justice S B Shukre had directed that a cost of Rs 15,000 imposed on litigants in different cases be diverted towards purchasing new books for the Taloja prison.