Court passes prison improvement measures for ensuring safety of inmates, such as CCTV footage recording and regular medical check-ups for inmates


Case title: Neria Ben David vs State of Goa Synopsis: The petition came to be filed before the Hon’ble High Court of Bombay at Goa, seeking relief against the barbaric acts of the Jail Authorities of the Modern Central Jail Colvale, wherein several inmates were brutally assaulted by the various Jail and IRB personnel. That the new Central Jail, was inaugurated sometime in the month of May 2015, the said jail is intended to be a complex consisting of modern facilities and capable of housing a larger number of prison inmates as compared to the earlier Central Jail at Aguada And was fashioned to be a “Corrective home” and the Inspector General of Prisons(IGP) has gone on record that he has taken into consideration the guidelines of the National Humans Rights Commission as well as the Supreme Court on prison administration while setting up the new Prison at Colvale. As on 10/10/2015, several inmates and under-trial convicts lodged at the Sub Jail Sada Vasco, including the petitioners were transferred to the new Modern Central Jail at Colvale. As on 12/10/2015, one inmate namely Mr. Victor Ubanozie was produced before the Ld. Spl Judge NDPS at Mapusa for the purpose of remand for his criminal case pending before the Ld. Judge. Wherein on his arrival the advocate for the said Mr.Ubanozie observed that he had been limping and had bruises all over his body. On questioning, he informed the Ld.Judge and his advocate of the events that transpired as on 10/10/2015. The said Mr. Ubanozie informed the Ld. Judge that as far as he is aware each prison inmate transferred was taken one at a time, produced before the Administrative block and were brutally beaten by the officials of the Jail. The said Mr. Ubanozie himself, after being thoroughly searched was brought before the administrative block, was held down by several jail officials and his head was shaved. Thereafter around 10-15 jail officials began hitting him with bamboo sticks on his head and throughout his body to the extent that his leg was found to be broken. That after the first round of assault he was made to sit at the entry point of the jail premises for 20 minutes after which he was again assaulted with kicks and blows by 10-15 jail officials. The petitioner managed to escape and immediately ran to the jailor for assistance but he merely ordered further assault on the petitioner. In the most sickening aspect of the whole incident, no injured inmate was provided any medical attention for two days. Only when the said Mr.Ubanozie highlighted the issue did the same come to light and applications were moved for medical treatment. Furthermore on hearing the news of the said incident, when efforts were made by the advocates concerned to meet the inmates injured, permission was denied by the jail authorities and permission was required to be obtained from the supervising court. One of the petitioners was taken before the administrative block wherein he was beaten to the extent that he was unable to see in one eye at all and could not open the same and is struggling to see with the other one. That no medical treatment was provided to the inmates till the incident came to light which was 2 days later which indicated that every attempt was made to cover up the said incident. The petitioners sought various reliefs from the court which included compensation as well as direction to improve the existing conditions within the jails. Status : That on filing the petition the respondents including the Inspector General of Prison were served and filed replies stating that criminal action was already proceeding against the offending officers. the petitioner sought for appointment of a commission to investigate the said matter and to provide an improvement of the jail conditions, however the same was disallowed and the petitioners were called on to file suggestions. That on hearing arguments, the Hon’ble Court though not granting compensation as the same had been granted by the Human Rights Commission, issued directions for various improvement measures within the jail including CCTV footage recording as well as regular medical check-ups for inmates within the jail and local district hospitals to detect any foul play at the earliest. Holding (Summary of the judgment): Main directions Board of Visitors manned by the District & Sessions Judges in both the districts shall visit the jails preferably every month to hear the grievances of the prisoners along with the Members of the Board and resolve the issues relating to the under-trial prisoners. CCTV cameras be installed at vantage points to monitor the conduct inside the Jail to serve as a system of checks and balances on the conduct of the Jail Officials and the inmates and backup be maintained for necessary course of action. A Resident Medical Officer be appointed at the Jail to provide due medical attention to the inmates and in emergent cases to refer the inmates to the Government Hospitals for further evaluation and management; Proper training be imparted to the Jail Officials for handling the inmates particularly when they get violent or do not observe prison discipline but without resorting to any sort of violence to bring them under control. Visits of the NGOs to the Jails for interacting with the inmates to hear about their grievances, if any, and to ventilate their grievances generally. Installation of the Complaint Box and the regular processing of the contents thereof by the Principal District and Sessions Judge. Sensitization of the Jail Administration Officials that subjecting the inmates to inhuman treatment would entail action in terms of the Central Civil Service and CCS (CCA) Rules.