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  India   All India  26 Feb 2017  Supreme Court urges new audit module for jails

Supreme Court urges new audit module for jails

Published : Feb 26, 2017, 6:50 am IST
Updated : Feb 26, 2017, 6:51 am IST

The court was concerned by the large variance in figures of average expenditure per inmate in prisons in different states.

Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Pointing out that different norms were being followed by various states for the expenses incurred for prisons, the Supreme Court has asked the Union home ministry to come out with a new audit module by March 31 to regulate such expenses.

The court passed this order after it was informed that in Bihar, the average expenditure per inmate in prison is Rs 83,691 per annum, while in Rajasthan, it is about Rs 3,000 per annum. Similarly, in Nagaland, it is Rs 65,468, while in Punjab, it is Rs 16,669.

Shocked by the glaring disparities in the figures furnished by the states and Union Territories, a bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta directed Union home ministry to seek the assistance of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to come with a module.

“There is a huge discrepancy in this regard, which needs to be looked into. It may also perhaps be necessary to have the accounts audited to ascertain whether the money is being spent wisely, and whether it is being utilised for the benefit of the prisoners or not,” the court said.

The bench was dealing with a suo motu case initiated by it in 2013 on the basis of an anonymous letter received highlighting the poor conditions in most jails in the country, resulting in a number of unnatural deaths in prisons. Taking note of the large number of vacancies, the bench also directed all states and UTs to fill up an estimated 27,000 vacancies by March end.

Amicus curiae- Gaurav Agrawal placed in the court a report which cited a reply on August 2, 2016, given by the Centre in the Lok Sabha in response to a question  that the sanctioned strength of jail officers/staff in the country as on 31st December, 2014 is 79,988. Out of this, the actual strength is only 52,666. Thus, there is a gap of about 27,000 staff/officers as on 31st December, 2014.

The bench pointed out that since the question was answered in the Lok Sabha on 2nd August, 2016, it is unlikely that there has been a substantial improvement in the staff strength since that date. It said “In view of the above, we direct all the State Governments and Union Territories to take immediate steps to fill up the existing vacancies and initiate concrete  steps in this regard on or before 31st March, 2017.

When the court was informed that a manual for the juvenile prisoners in conflict with law is under preparation and is likely to be ready by 31st March, 2017, the Bench said “We expect the Ministry of Women and Child Development to complete the process. We expect all the State Governments/Union Territories to cooperate with the Ministry of Home Affairs and provide all necessary data and information. In the event, the State Governments/Union Territories do not provide necessary data and information to the Ministry of Home Affairs we will be constrained to impose very heavy costs.” The matter is listed for further hearing on April 12.

Tags: supreme court, lok sabha, auditor general of india
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi