The “dismal” condition of prison monitoring and undertrial review committees in the country has been highlighted in twin reports released by an NGO on Tuesday. “The overall picture of the prison visiting system in the country is dismal, bleak and in need of immediate attention,” stated the report ‘Looking into Haze,’ on prison monitoring in India.
“Out of 29 states in the country, only Meghalaya stands at 100 per cent compliance to the standards laid down regarding appointment of non-official visitors (NOVs), constitution of Board of Visitors (BOVs), and their meetings,” it said.
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All other states “fall short” of adherence to the legal mandates laid down in the prison rules, noted the report by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI),a non-governmental organisation. “As a result there is little oversight of prisons, great neglect of facilities and breaches of rights that have remained unrepaired for decades,” it added.
While the report on Under Trial Review Committees (UTRCs) titled ‘Circle of Justice’, notes that there is some compliance in this regard but it is “patchy and partial” and its impact is uncertain. The report aims to evaluate the extent to which UTRCs are proving to be effective mechanisms in safeguarding the right to liberty of prisoners.
“It is not clear if the purpose of the UTRCs – no one must be detained for more than the period required by law – is being achieved,” states the report. Findings of the report show that only 149 districts out of 357 held meetings of the UTRCs within three months.
“This means that 60 per cent of the districts did not comply with the mandate of holding quarterly meeting,” it said.
The UTRCs in 16 states recommended 2,112 cases for the release of prisoners which led to the release of only 515 undertrials, as follow up by the UTRCs to track implementation of their recommendations was “weak,” the report said.