Mumbai: Jet Airways Founder Naresh Goyal’s Bail Plea Shines A Light On Prison Conditions

Mumbai: Jet Airways Founder Naresh Goyal’s Bail Plea Shines A Light On Prison Conditions

In his plea, which is likely to come up for hearing today, the Jet Airways founder said that ‘prisoners of war are not accorded the treatment that is so degrading and inhuman’.

Imran ShaikhUpdated: Friday, May 03, 2024, 11:45 PM IST
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Jet Airways Founder Naresh Goyal | PTI

Mumbai: The remarks made by Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal about the treatment given to prisoners has again brought back the issue of inhuman conditions in prison. In his bail plea, which is likely to come up for hearing on Friday, Goyal said that “prisoners of war are not accorded the treatment that is so degrading and inhuman”.

This again raises a debate on the lack of infrastructure and hygiene in prisons. In October 2023, Ramdas Rahane, allegedly booked by the Anti-Extortion Cell for being part of the Dawood Ibrahim gang and over allegations of extortion, had complained to the court about reduction of sleeping space by two inches.

Rahane said he was lodged in Barrack 6(4) in Arthur Road Prison, which according to the authorities was overcrowded. Other inmates have complained about unhygienic conditions of prisons, leading to skin-related ailments. In 2018, the charity commission had organised a medical check-up across all prisons in Maharashtra, covering around 7,000 prisoners. Out of this, 455 prisoners from the city prisons were examined and were found to have skin ailments and mental health issues.

The Standing Committee on Home Affairs had submitted its report on Prison: Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms on September 21, 2023. The committee had observed that overcrowded prisons have serious consequences for both prisoners and the criminal justice system. The national average occupancy rate in prisons across India is 130%. Six states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, account for more than half of the total prisoner population.

Four out of these six states have an occupancy rate higher than the national average. Advocate Prakash Salsingikar, who works for poor prisoners and is also part of a non-profit organisation that works for poor inmates who cannot afford legal fees, said there was lot to be done when it came to improving conditions of the prisoners.

“There had been a visit of members of National Human Right Commission recently and as a member of an NGO, I accompanied them. When we saw the ground reality it was very saddening. There are not enough beds and prisons are very overcrowded, resulting in severe hygiene issues,” Salsingikar said.

He added that medical infrastructure for inmates was poor. Even in cases of court orders, inmates are not taken to hospitals for want of police guards. “The prisoners have many times complained to us about preferential treatment given to some class of the prisoners,” he added.

The special PMLA court that allowed Goyal to undergo tests at a private hospital observed in his order dated January 17 that “the situation in JJ Hospital is such that even if MRI is to be made the date is given beyond two months as many patients are already in long queue.” The court noted that Goyal was 72 years old and suffering from multiple ailments.

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