Nagpur: Peeved over the delay in devising the system having latest information about inmates lodged in various jails across Maharashtra, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court directed inspector general (IG Prisons) in Mumbai to expedite work of ‘ePrisons’ software within three months.
The directives came while hearing a suo motu PIL on jail authorities’ failure to inform about the death of prisoner Bhagwanta Sarode whose case was pending since 2012. Though the prisoner expired on June 3, 2013, and the death certificate was sent to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the HC wasn’t informed for over two years. It was only after the HC directed the Amravati jail superintendent to furnish a report about Sarode’s mental status on July 22, 2015, that led to the revelation about his death.
After Mugdha Chandurkar’s appointment as amicus curiae, she highlighted lack of coordination among respondents regarding the convicts’ status in jails. She pointed out irregularities and lapses on jail authorities’ part that led to hearing of an already abated appeal due to the prisoner’s death by HC. “It’s because of non-supply of necessary information about Sarode’s health and death, the proceedings remain pending,” she mentioned.
Earlier, HC registrar (judicial), while quoting emails of HC’s central project coordinator in Mumbai, informed that the prisons department would be changing its PRISMS software into ‘ePrisons’ developed by NIC in the meeting held on February 4. Once the data is successfully migrated, it would be easy to integrate ‘ePrisons’ with the Court Information System (CIS) software. After successful migration, about three months will be required for its integration with CIS.
“The IG (Prisons) is directed to complete work of software migration and intimate it to the central project coordinator of e-Courts project in Mumbai and also to Nagpur bench,” a division bench comprising justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote said.
While flaying jail authorities for lapses in Sarode’s case, the judges said similar blunders were committed and even by HC’s legal aid committees earlier. “In many cases, the convicts’ cases aren’t filed through the legal aid sub committee, but allocated to lawyers on their panel. Upon overall review of non-filing of the appeals through the legal aid sub committee or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), we find that it’s necessary for the state legal aid committee to look into all such appeals and matters of the prisoners/convicts to ensure actual filing,” they said.
In its affidavit, the Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority informed that it’s in the process of establishing a prison reporting system through electronic link between jail and legal services authorities based on Karnataka’s module. In the ‘prison reporting system’, details regarding the current population and admission of under trial prisoners and other information can be accessed.
ABOUT THE CASE
* Prisoner Bhagwanta Sarode filed a case against govt in HC
* He expired on June 3, 2013, death certificate sent to SHRC
* Jail authorities failed to inform HC on his death for 2 years
* His case was heard on July 22, 2015 & HC sought his status
* Jail SP then informed that he expired about 2 years ago
* Suo motu PIL filed for preventing lapses & better coordination