KL NEWS NETWORK
J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar conducted its annual jail visit of various jails in Jammu province. Various teams of Bar members visited Central Jail Kotbalwal Jammu, District Jail Ambphalla Jammu, District Jail Udhampur, Kathua and Hira Nagar on 27th and 28th of January, 2016.
“The jail visits were conducted in pursuance of orders of the Hon’ble High Court passed in CMP No. 01/2015 in OWP No. 767/2006, case titled J&K High Court Bar Association versus State of J&K and others. Specific orders were issued and jail authorities to allow the Bar members to have interaction with detainees, under-trials and convicts,” a statement issued by Bar said.
The team observed that the detainees booked under various criminal cases are in a “highly depressed mental condition and feel frustrated” due to lack of adequate legal aid, facilities for arranging escort to attend the courts on due dates, proper medical facilities, food and lodgement problems. “Various detainees narrated their case histories indicating that they have been booked in criminal cases under NIA Act, when a number of witnesses are declared ‘protected witnesses’, their names are not disclosed to them for ‘security reasons’ and the statements are recorded in chambers which are not made available to them. The number of witnesses is so large that it may take decades to complete their trials. The detainees have been detained under NIA Act, which is a Central Act, succeeding draconian laws like TADA, POTA and ULA(P) Act, which contains provisions with sweeping powers to police,” the statement said.
“The State of J&K having under Governor Rule advocated extension of jurisdiction of NIA to State in cases booked under Ranbir Penal Code also, which provides jurisdiction to J&K Police only. The application of NIA is a matter of legal controversy as a communication of J&K State Law Department indicates that no notification has been issued so for extending jurisdiction of NIA Act for J&K. The committee observed that the detainees in various jails are facing protracted trials in various trial courts with no adequate legal aid and support. Most of the detainees booked under Safety Act are booked for political considerations and according to them they are innocent. Some of the detainees have been booked under PSA orders issued concurrently to defeat the judicial process,” the statement said.
“It was observed that the committee appointed under the orders of J&K High Court headed by District Sessions Judges are not visiting the jails regularly and co-opted members of these committees do not accompany the District Judges. The orders of the Hon’ble High Court providing for creation of posts of Medical Affairs in every jail have not been implemented so far in all jails,” the statement observed.
“The quality of food and other facilities need improvement, besides there is an urgent need to provide telephone facility to detainees to have a frequent interaction with their family members, whereas, the said facility is already available in Tihar Jail,” it added.