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HC raps Maha govt for failing to set up civil prisons


Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Bombay High Court today pulled up the Maharashtra government for failing to set up civil prisons and keeping civil prisoners with criminal prisoners.
Justice Gautam Patel also directed that Krishna Rana, who was sentenced to three months in civil prison by the high court for making false statements and not complying with court orders, should be released today itself, before his prison term ends.
Rana had filed an application last week, claiming that though he was sentenced to civil prison, he was kept in the Byculla Jail here with criminal prisoners and was not allowed to meet his family since he surrendered 39 days ago.
The government told the court that Rana was kept with only those who are convicted for petty offences. He could not be kept in civil prison due to space constraints, it said.
The court refused to accept this contention, saying whether the cell-mates were accused of minor or heinous crimes was not the issue.
"The separation is between civil and criminal prisoners and that is the end of it," the judge said.
The Prisons Act clearly states that civil prisoners have to be separated from the criminal prisoners, the court said.
Justice Patel also cited the Prison Manual Rules which state that civil prisoners are to be confined in a civil jail or a portion of a criminal prison set apart for that purpose, and not allowed to come in contact with criminal prisoners.
"This is not a matter of discretion....the government has no choice whatsoever in this matter," Justice Patel said.
"Either the government will provide for some other more modern method of restricted movement or home confinement as is done in jurisdictions overseas, employing appropriate technology, or it will follow these statutes and make available a proper civil jail," he said.
"A period of 39 days in confinement is not a trivial length of time by any stretch of imagination. This is a matter of deprivation of liberty at some level and these matters are always to be taken seriously," the judge said.

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First Published: Apr 26 2018 | 11:00 PM IST

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