Several prisoners have moved the Delhi High Court complaining about the inhuman conditions and lack of medical and employment facilities at the newly-commissioned Mandoli jail in the national capital.
Flagging eight hand-written letters by the prisoners as a “serious and public interest issue”, the high court asked the authorities to examine their grievances and file a status report on the matter.
It also issued show cause notices to the departments concerned of the Delhi government, including Tihar Jail’s Director General as he is the administrative head of all the three jails in the national capital.
The letters to the high court, which were put up for perusal before a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar, were treated as a public interest litigation.
One of the letters has been written by an inmate, who has been on a hunger strike for around two and a half months raising the grievances.
To decongest the Tihar Jail in west Delhi, two other jails — one at Rohini in northwest Delhi and another at Mandoli in east Delhi, were made operational in December 2004 and October 2016 respectively.
The Mandoli complex, which has six prisons, can house 3,776 inmates. Tihar and Rohini jails have 14,469 prisoners as against the sanctioned strength of 6,250.
The bench directed that “the authorities shall examine the issue raised by the prisoners in Mandoli jail and file their status report at earliest.”
The matter was listed for further hearing on November 30.
The inmate, who is on hunger strike since June 23 and is undergoing a 14-year jail term, in his letter in Hindi has alleged that nobody at Mandoli jail has given him a hearing on these problems and jail procedures were being misused by the administration, who were using them as a “tool against the convict”.
Another prisoner has stated that no one from Mandoli jail administration listens to convicts while awarding punishment and it “becomes a one-sided process”.
One more prisoner has urged the court to direct authorities not to discriminate among the inmates while awarding work, as some of them was allowed to work for only 15 days a month which was not sufficient for the prisoner to earn enough for his family.
The letters complained about the pathetic living conditions in the jail besides the lack of sufficient medical facilities, lack of employment and faulty punishment procedures allegedly being implemented by the jail administration.
As per the Tihar Jail Manual, the inmates, who are handed out jail terms, are imparted education, useful skills and lessons to respect the law. It aims to improve the inmates’ self-esteem and strengthen their desire to improve.