The Supreme Court on Friday issued directions to Centre and states to reform prisons.
The apex court also made it clear that while visits to prisons by the family of a prisoner should be encouraged, it would be worthwhile to consider extending the time or frequency of meetings.
The Supreme Court also said to explore the possibility of using phones and video conferencing for communications not only between a prisoner and family members of that prisoner, but also between a prisoner and the lawyer, whether appointed through the state legal services authority or otherwise.
Earlier on May, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had advised prison in-charges of all states and Union Territories (UT) about resolutions adopted by 5th National Conference of Heads of Prisons of states and UTs on prison reforms.
The 5th National Conference of Head of Prisons of States and UTs on prison reforms was held at New Delhi on September 29-30, 2016. After detailed deliberations on various aspects of prison administration, some important resolutions were adopted for guidance and implementation by states and UT prison authorities.
State and UT Governments have been advised to consider the implementation of the following suggestions for a effective prison administration and management.
i) The nomenclature of Prisons Department may be changed to "Prisons and Correctional Administration", which should have integrated prison, correctional and probation services.
ii) Every state should establish a welfare wing under the Prison Department comprising welfare officers, law officers, counselors and probation officers.
iii) In order to ensure basic uniformity in prison rules and regulations, all States and Union Territories should revise their existing prison manuals by adopting the provisions of Model Prison Manual, 2016 prepared by Ministry of Home Affairs and circulated to all states and UTs in May 2016.
iv) The prisons should be linked with courts through video conferencing for expeditious trial and to save costs in escorting under-trials to the courts.
v) The existing vacancies in all ranks of prison departments to be filled up expeditiously.
vi) Prison e-system should be integrated with Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) as well as e-Courts on priority basis.
vii) Combined training of Prison, Police, Health Department and Judiciary on under-trial management to be conducted periodically. Separate training course on de-radicalization of prisoners should also be conducted.
State Governments and UT Administrations have also been asked to communicate the updated status of implementation of the above advice.
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