The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to consider creating a post of DIG (Welfare and Rehabilitation) in the Prisons department to look into welfare and rehabilitation needs of women prisoners and their children after they are released from jail. The court has further directed that women prisoners should be transferred to the district in which their children live, at least once in three months.
A special bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere has been constituted to look into implementating prison reforms across the state. The bench recently passed several directions with regard to improving the condition of women prisoners and their children on release form jail. “We direct Department of Welfare of Childrens’ Development (DWCD) to take steps to recognise at least one NGO in each district to work with women prisoners and their children left outside within three months,” the court said.
The department has also been asked to appoint a full-time lady police officer in all-woman sections of Central Prisons and major district prisons like Byculla and Kalyan, within two months. Moreover, the government has been asked to consider increasing the budgetary allocation of grant-in-aid scheme for released prisoners. “We further direct that women prisoners should be transferred to the district in Maharashtra, where the children are living, atleast once in three months, so they can meet their children. Accordingly, the state should take steps to make effective changes in Prison Manual,” said the Bench.
The court has further said that wherever an undertrial woman is being transferred from police to judicial custody, the police should specify details about the location and address of her children’s residence or the name and address of institution where they are admitted. These details should be registered in the station diary and chargesheet, the court said. “ The state may issue suitable Government Resolution in consonance with this direction,” the court said.
To protect the needs of a child, the bench said that at the time of arrest of a parent, who is accused in murder of his/her spouse, where a child is witness to the murder, the police should inform District Legal Services Authority or probation officer to remain present during the questioning of the child. Meanwhile, in another matter related to prison reforms for women prisoners, the court has asked the Maharashtra government to compile responses of prisoners in the matter and to keep the same as confidential from jail authorities.
“Send ten forms for the undertrial female prisoners and ten for female convicts. Forms filled up by inmates and the under-trial prisoners will be considered as confidential information. The district legal authority shall take the assistance of fifth year law students from different colleges of the districts. This exercise shall be completed by October 31, 2017,” the bench said. Once the survey is complete, MLSA will compile the responses and file a report before the High Court, the bench said.