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HC seeks prisoner count

Ranchi, Dec. 18: Expressing concern at the growing number of undertrials in prisons across the state, Jharkhand High Court has directed all district judges to compile a report detailing the number of prisoners and cases pending against them.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice M. Karpagavinayagam and Justice D.K. Sinha also directed them to dispose of cases of a petty nature at the earliest by letting the inmates avail of the benefits of plea bargaining.

The bench, while hearing a PIL on the condition of jails and inmates, observed there are thousands languishing in jails and many have even served out their complete sentences. There is no proper guidance and prisoners are not freed from captivity, it added.

Inspector-general for prisons Cornelius Tirkey also presented a status report on new wards in jails. In his affidavit, he said two wards with a capacity to hold 100 prisoners each have been functioning in the Gumla jail since November 21 while a similar ward has been started in Seraikela Jail since August 15.

Tirkey said extension work is in progress in Godda and Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Central Jail in Hazaribagh. However, the Ghaghidih Jail in Jamshedpur has been delayed as the sewage treatment plant isn’t ready.

Tirkey said in Dumka jail, one ward for women prisoners is functioning along with kitchens and toilets. A library has been constructed in the Central Jail at Dumka and Lohardaga.

The PIL was filed by one Amit Kumar, a detainee in the erstwhile Birsa Munda Jail here, exposing the sorry plight of prisoners in the jail. He pointed out the jail was over-crowded with the number of prisoners reaching three times the capacity. The jail has now been shifted to a larger premises in Hotwar.

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