Legal aid, quality food among Delhi Commission for Women’s recommendations to Tihar authorities

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Decongestion of prison cells, separate toilets with door within the cells, provisions for proper legal assistance, deployment of psychiatrists and counselors, quality food and payment of wages without deduction are among a slew of recommendations made by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) for the welfare of inmates lodged in Tihar Jail’s women wards.

DCW’s Swati Maliwal last week had visited the jail Number: 6, where women inmates are lodged. Based on her interaction with officials and prisoners, a report has been sent to Sandeep Goel, director general (DG), prisons for immediate action.

According to the DCW, three women inmates were kept in a small room in “inhumane conditions” with an attached toilet which had no door. 

In its report, the panel pointed out that the jail has only one law officer and one lawyer from Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), who is available only after  3 pm. The DCW said that existing arrangements are “highly inadequate” as there should be at least a team of five “full-time” advocates, especially to help under-trials.  

During the visit, a few inmates complained that postal services are delayed and their letters to family and friends are not approved and posted by jail officials for months. “Almost 80 per cent of the inmates are under-trials and have not been convicted. Reforms need to be undertaken within jails to ensure that when released, they can start their lives from a new perspective and leave crime. We are sending these recommendations to the jail authorities and hope for urgent action,” said Maliwal.

As per the DCW report, Tihar Jail has 276 women inmates including 240 under-trials. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Goel said that the DCW was properly briefed about the arrangements during the visit and action would definitely be taken on its recommendations.  

Responding to the suggestions regarding the number of prisoners in a cell and the condition of toilet inside the cell, he said there is enough space for three inmates inside the unit.

“Women prison in Tihar complex has fewer occupants than its capacity. Toilets with low-height walls for privacy inside the cells are as per the standard design. They are built like this everywhere, which are used when the cells are locked. Otherwise, there are main toilet blocks outside where all facilities are available,” said the top official of the prison.

He added that the matter of deduction of wages comprises several issues which needed intervention at the government level. The DCW has asked the jail authorities to submit an action taken report by July 21.

Bringing dignity for inmates

  1. Prison cells need to be decongested and each unit must have a separate covered toilet with a door

  2. At least 5 lawyers to provide legal assistance to the inmates

  3. Delhi Police should provide a hard copy of the FIR with the court order (if any) as soon as the prisoner is brought to the jail

  4. Welfare Officer should inform inmates about the allegations against them

  5. Employ teachers for all inmates

  6. Inmates should be paid complete wages without deduction; cutting more than half of the minimum wage in the name of maintenance is unfair

  7. A teacher and caretaker in the Creche

  8. At least one resident teacher each for yoga, physical training, dance, art and craft and computers

  9. Vaccination of the entire staff and inmates before the possible Covid third wave

  10. Experts/ NGOs to start a de-addiction program

  11. Balanced diet including milk, fruits, green vegetables and khichri/dalia for inmates’ children in jail

  12. Availability of better books including Bare Acts and newspapers in the Library

  13. A team of psychiatrists and resident counselors for improving the behaviour of the inmates



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