A sitting judge of Orissa High Court expressed deep concern over the substandard food being provided to inmates in one of the jails of the State by ruling that “it was not fit for human consumption at all”.
“The High Court is deeply concerned over the state of the affairs in jails as it has been found in a surprise visit undertaken by one of our colleagues Mr. Justice S.K. Panigrahi to the Koraput Sub-Jail when he was visiting that District as the Administrative Judge In-Charge”, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice R. K. Pattanaik hearing the petition by Krushna Prasad Sahoo on jail condition observed on Monday.
Justice Panigrahi reported how the condition of the toilets in the Koraput Sub-Jail is appalling. They are unusable and in an utterly filthy condition.
Justice Panigrahi has also drawn the attention to the fact that “the food served in Koraput Sub-Jail was of very poor quality and simply inedible. In other words, it was not fit for human consumption at all”
The Court expresses its deepest concern on these issues. The DG Prisons in Odisha hardly needs reminding that no prisoner is denied the basic fundamental right to dignity and decent living within the prison walls.
The Court hereby issues a directive to the DG, Prisons to ensure that there is not a single Jail, Sub-Jail in Odisha where the toilets, the prison wards are found wanting in cleanliness and hygiene, the division bench directed.
Further, the food quality has to be of the best possible standard given the budget allocated for prisoners, both under-trials and convicts. The Court would like to emphasize not only has the quality of food to be good, but the quantity too in terms of the required calorific value, has to be ensured.
The Court also directs that every Secretary of every District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to undertake an unannounced visit along with the concerned non-official visitors to the Jails and Sub Jails within the jurisdiction of the concerned DLSA in next one week and specifically inspect the conditions of the toilets, the cleanliness of the wards and the quality and quantity of food being served to the inmates.
They will also report on the available medical facilities both for the physical as well as mental well-being of the prisoners.
The Court would like wherever possible the inspecting team to take photographs/videos (on their mobile phones) and submit a report to this Court in soft copy through the Member Secretary, OSLSA, the division bench directed and posted the matter for further hearing on 20 April.