Denying canteen food to prisoners inhuman: HC

Observing that denying prisoners the facility of canteen food is “inhuman”,the Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the IG,who issued a circular on September 5,2008 banning the canteen food,to discuss the issue with it on February 26.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: February 19, 2010 10:19:09 pm

Observing that denying prisoners the facility of canteen food is “inhuman”,the Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the IG,who issued a circular on September 5,2008 banning the canteen food,to discuss the issue with it on February 26.

The court will now scrutinise the reasons behind the ban.

A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar observed that “it is absolutely inhuman to deny them items like boiled eggs or samosas.”

“There’s nothing great about prison life. Let them at least eat something with their own money,” Justice Desai said. “Why would IG (Prisons) issue such a notice?” Justice Desai asked. “Let IG tell us if there is any threat or law and order problem. Just because there have been some stray incidents doesn’t mean all the prisoners should suffer for it,” Justice Desai said. Nashik jail superintendent Swati Sathe too was present in court on Thursday.

Acting public prosecutor P A Pol pointed out that the Nagpur bench as well as a division bench of the Bombay High Court had earlier upheld the circular. Pol stated that it is the discretion of Inspector General of Prisons to make the decision.

The court held that prima facie the prisoners should not be deprived of facility of canteen. “There should be some genuine ground as to why the facility is not given,” the judges said.

Some of the convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case lodged at the Aurangabad Prison had moved the Bombay High Court seeking that eatables be made available in prison canteens again. According to the petition,as per Maharashtra Prison Manual,eatables can be sold in prison canteens apart from other things such as soap,beedis,etc.

Petitioners’ lawyer advocate Aisha Ansari had argued that this facility was available since 1949. She contended that foods such as chicken,eggs and mutton etc were sold in the canteens,and prisoners could buy them with their own money.

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