Mumbai: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has asked the department to conduct the medical test of 60,000 inmates locked up in various jails across the state, especially in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. Those with fever, cold and cough will be put under watch.
Deshmukh said, some of the inmates in already crowded jails will be shifted to other jails as a preventive measure. Of the 60,000 inmates, nearly 75 per cent are undertrials.
These directives are important, as against the capacity of 24,032 inmates, 60 prisons across the state population have 50 per cent higher inmates at 36,195.
Minimum ground space per inmate is 1.19 square metres for sleeping as against the average minimum ground space of 3.71 square metres set as a standard requirement, according to Maharashtra Prisons (Prison Buildings and Sanitary Arrangements) Rules, 1964.
Further, the state government spends as less as Rs 37.49 per day on each prisoner to provide him three square meals — as prescribed in the diet scale of prison manuals — which is much less than the national average of Rs 60.22 per day per prisoner.
CAG, in its report submitted in July 2019 in the state legislature, had rapped the state government for the poor state of affairs of jails and prisons. The authorised capacity of prisons in Maharashtra remained stagnant from 2013-14 to 2017-18, but the population of jail inmates registered an 18 per cent growth during the period, from 27,883 to 32,810.
The total number of prisoners, as on March 2018, was 37 per cent more than the authorised capacity of jails in the state. In nine Central Prison and Correctional Centres (CP&CC), the overcrowding of prisoners had been persistently increasing from 125 per cent in 2013-14 to 155 per cent of capacity in 2017-18, it said.
In District Prison and Correctional Centres Class-I, the inmate population ranged between 112 per cent and 129 per cent of their capacity in the period under review, the CAG said. In case of District Prison and Correctional Centres Class-II, no new prisons were constructed, nor any efforts were made by the department to accommodate the excess inmates, which ranged between 100 per cent and 113 per cent of the capacity.
In case of District Prison and Correctional Centres Class-III, the occupancy ranged between 75 per cent-118 per cent of their capacity in the 2013-14 and 2017-18 period.
Out of the 102 sub-jails located in tehsil places in the state and having a capacity to accommodate 1,670 prisoners, only 54 of them were functioning.