Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association has alleged that the prisoners detained in Kishtawar Jail in Jammu Province were not produced in courts on listed dates which has deprived them of timely justice.
In a statement to KNS, Bar Association while releasing its Annual report on Thursday said,
“The Bar Association has been visiting the jails to see the actual plight of the inmates, with respect to their rights ,nature of facilities provided to them , the treatment received by them at the hands of the jail authorities and staff. The fate of the cases in which they are booked and the steps taken for ensuring speedy trials. The arrangements in place to ensure their production in trial courts on due dates. Besides, the health care and medical facilities available to then while in jail. Their mental and psychological conditions and the nature of facilities provided to them in the name of rehabilitation and correctional services. Feed back from relatives and friends helps the Bar Association to focus on the problems faced by the inmates. The previous visit conducted in Udhampur Jail during October 2012, was an eye opener in this regard and Bar Association had reported these abuses in its reports and submitted to the Hon’ble High Court as well as released to the press. The Bar Association has been concerned about the disturbing news items appearing in newspapers from time to time .The Bar Association has been receiving complaints from relatives ,friends and letters are addressed directly by the inmates to its office bearers pointing out prevalent malpractices and abuse of authority in jails. Some time back startling disclosures were made in Wiki Leaks, quoting reports of ‘ The International Committee of the Red Cross’ about the torture of detainees in J&K State over the years. The ICRC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Government of India in quoting June 1995 and according to this agreement ICRC has been authorized to visit regularly all persons arrested and detained in connection with the situation prevailing in J&K including those detained outside the State. Although the ICRC has a policy of maintaining confidentiality yet as a follow up confidential reports are presented to the higher authorities concerned both at local and central levels. Such report have been disclosed in WikiLeaks . The report dated; December 17, 2010 revealed that US diplomats were secretly briefed by staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] about the systematic abuse of detainees in Kashmir. In the report it has been disclosed that the detainees were ill treated and various methods of torture were used in detention centers in J&K , including use to electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation of detainees. The ICRC had shown its concern about non cooperation and had expressed concern about non stoppage of ‘continued ill treatment of detainees’. The abuses of physical torture in presence of officers were reported in the report and they had visited numerous such detention centers whose number according to ICRC report was 300 some years ago. The ICRC has not been given access to ‘Cargo building’ which is considered to be the most notorious detention center in Srinagar according to the report. It has been also observed that State ‘condoned torture’.
It added as per law, “an under trial in a criminal case classified by jail authorities under the category ‘militancy related cases’ is also to be segregated from habitual criminals involved in social crimes . The undertrial is to be kept separately from the convicts as there is ‘presumption of innocence under law’ until an offence is proved against them in a court of law. These distinctions are not accepted by jail authorities and it has been found that for their ‘administrative convenience’ they are not able to follow these important guidelines and norms, contained in statutes and also interpreted judicially by Supreme court and the High courts. In the year 2000, ‘‘The Jail Manual of Superintendence & Management of Jails ’ was issued containing main statutes viz , The Prisons Act, The Prisoners Act , Detenue General order and other standing orders. There is a concrete and exhaustive recommendation already made NHRC,SHRC and Law Commission and an elaborate report of Mulla Committee in the light of which these laws need to be amended to meet the requirements of society in the 21st Century. The rights are to be understood in the background of changes having taken place in criminal law at the international law in terms of various Covenants, Treaties and Conventions which bind the nation states. There are ample safeguards and protections available to the prisoners, undertrials and political detenues held in jails under the Articles 14, 19 & 21 of the constitution, which have been interpreted in judgments and pronouncements of Supreme Court and High Courts which define and determine the rights of the prisoners and detenues.”
Bar has mentioned in its report the plight of various detainees including Jamail Din S/o Khair din R/o Kishtwar, Firdous Ahmad S/o Mohd. Ramzan R/o Drabshalla Kishtiwar, Ab. Gani S/o Satter Chawani R/o Sigdi Chattroo Kishtwar, Ajaz Ahmad S/o Mohd. Khalil R/o Murwah Kistwar and others .
The team of bar members that visited jails includ Advocate Shabir Ahmad Bhat, and Advocate Aejaz Bedar, Advocate Rafiq Ahmad Joo, Advocate Arshad Andrabi,.
According to Bar, The visit was conducted in pursuance of the orders of the Hon’ble High Court passed on 28.12.2012 , in CMP No: 2850/2012 filed in OWP No: 767/2006, case titled J&K High Court Bar Association vs State of J&K & Ors. The public Interest petition was filed in the year 2006 ,by the Bar Association .