NHRC issued notice to Bihar government over poor condition of prisons

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Who: National Human Rights Commission
What: Issued notice to Bihar Government
When: 6 January 2016

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 6 January 2016 issued a notice to Bihar government over the reported deplorable conditions prevailing in the prisons of the state.

The Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Prisons of Bihar Government based on the report titled Prisons of Bihar: Status Report 2015, prepared by activist and researcher Smita Chakraburty.

The commission has asked the state government for a response by February 2016.

Highlights of the Report
• The report is stated to be an eye opener and throws light on the denial of basic human rights of prisoners in Bihar and points to the urgent need for prison reforms across the country.
• It highlights absence of medical facilities in prisons, particularly for women.
• It highlights the bias against terror accused and under trials by denying them even the copies of charge sheets of the cases against them.
• Instances of forced labour by under trials which is punishable under Indian Penal Code had also been observed in the prisons.
• It calls for the need of medical and psychiatric help for the inmates.
• It brought to the fore issues of punishment of prisoners under the discretionary powers provided by the Prison Manual Rules without supervision by an appellate body.
• It pointed out that very few advocates meet the under trials in the court and they go unrepresented when produced before the Magistrate. Rather, the law provides for free legal aid counsel to under trials.

Background
The responsibility of preparing the report was assigned to Smita Chakraburty by Justice VN Sinha, Judge of Patna High Court and she was also asked to visit all the 58 prisons of Bihar to study the living conditions and submit a report.

Chakraburty interviewed as many as 30070 inmates during the course of her study. The final report was released on 15 November 2015.