The Bombay High Court Monday asked the state government whether its recent notification prohibiting construction within 500 metres of jails is prospective or not.
The HC also asked City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to inform it whether there were any stalled building proposals around Taloja jail that received the nod prior to the notification.
A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice V L Achliya was hearing a petition filed by 2008 Malegaon blast accused Major Ramesh Upadhyay, who had raised concerns about security threats to inmates of Taloja jail due to high-rises coming up around it.
Justice Patil asked CIDCO’s lawyer G S Hegde what revenue was involved in ongoing projects that fell within 500 metres of Taloja. Hegde informed the court there were two such projects and a revenue of Rs 929.16 crore was at stake. He also informed the court that subsequent to the government’s notification, a stop-work notice was issued by CIDCO on January 10.
The bench granted time to the government to take instructions and posted the matter for further hearing on January 27.
In the earlier hearing of January 14, the judges had said that protecting the rights of inmates should be a matter of the state’s priority.
“Jails have to be one of state’s priorities. It is a major issue just like roads, infrastructure, and the state should protect the basic human rights of prisoners,” Justice Patil had said.
“They should be given proper food, books and fresh air to breathe,” he had said, while expressing concern over overcrowding in jails.
The state counsel informed the bench that Arthur Road Jail, in particular, was overcrowded.
Upadhyay had written to the HC raising concerns about existing and under-construction high-rises that posed a security threat to jail inmates. The court had converted the letter into a suo motu petition and appointed advocate
Shubdha Khot as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist in the matter.