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‘Propose’ the conditional release of ‘single woman prisoners’: High Court

The Orissa High Court has raised concern about the emotional anguish of one or two female convicts living in several jails across the state alongside a huge number of male detainees. The HC panel, which included Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice R.K. Pattanaik, directed the DGP Prisons and Correctional Services to consider conditional parole for such women. The Odisha government, on the other hand, advocated moving them to nearby prisons or sub–jails where there are other female detainees.

Maadhyam, an NGO working on the rehabilitation of undertrial convicts in Odisha in partnership with State prison officials, raised concerns about the mental health of single woman detainees in eight sub–jails in a letter to the HC. There are no more than two female detainees in any of the 11 sub–jails. The NGO proposed they be sent to the neighboring sub-jail, which includes more than one female detainee. Following that, the HC forwarded the letter to jail officials and the Secretary of the Odisha State Legal Services Authority (OSLSA).

However, jail officials informed the court that instructions to that effect had already been delivered to the sub–jails. Gautam Misra, an amicus curiae appointed in the jail reform case, proposed that the DG Prisons consider conditional parole for such inmates. In response to a proposal, the division bench instructed the DGP to investigate it and present a compliance report to it by April 18.

The court voiced its dissatisfaction with the low quality of food supplied to prisoners and the unsanitary restrooms. According to the division bench, Justice S.K. Panigrahi recently visited the Koraput sub-jail and remarked on the very poor quality and simply inedible food — not fit for human consumption at all — supplied there, as well as the deplorable state of the bathrooms.


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