Panel to Suggest Ways to Revamp MHA :-
The government has constituted an expert group under former Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta to suggest measures to re-orient the “organisation, structure and processes” of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Purpose – To meet the growing internal security challenges of the 21st century.
Example :- Earlier In 2009, then Home Minister P Chidambaram had mooted the idea of MHA bifurcation to focus on mounting internal security challenges in view of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
- The Committee will also examine and evaluate the organisational capacity of MHA and the human resources at its disposal and propose methods for augmentation as well as better resource deployment if required.
- Propose methods to increase coordination and flow of information within different departments of the Ministry, particularly with regard to national security, law and order issues and other security related issues which may arise in future.
- The panel is to propose mechanisms to allow senior officials of the Ministry to exercise better oversight of their areas of work and devote greater time to strategic priorities.
- The Committee will also study and propose methods to increase the efficiency of organisations associated with the Ministry, such as training centres and forensic labs to enhance their capacity and efficiency.
National Internal Security threats are growing as per continuous attacks in J&K & in other states too with the extremists movement. Therefore it is important to further revamp the MHA so it would be easy to tackle those problems. Therefore, It is utterly important to know what this parliamentary committee is going to do & further what it suggests/recommends.
SC slams States & UTs for Overcrowded Jails :-
Prisoners “cannot be kept in jail like animals”, a shocked Supreme Court said after it was informed that many of the over 1,300 prisons across the country were overcrowded, even to the extent of more than 600 per cent.
A bench of Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta also warned the Directors General of Police (Prisons) of all states and UTs of contempt notice for non-compliance of its earlier orders with regard to submitting a plan of action to deal with issue of overcrowding prisons.
Bench Observations :-
- There were a large number of jails where overcrowding is well above 150 per cent and in one case it is as high as 609 per cent.
- The complete lack of commitment of the State Governments and the Union Territories to the human rights of prisoners.
- Some jail inmates have got bail but cannot be released as they cannot furnish sureties, some others were imprisoned for petty offences under which they should have got bail long ago.
- Unrestricted overcrowding in jails continues and in some instances, it has escalated because of poor performance of Under Trial Review Committees to take their responsibilities.
- The apex court had, through orders of May 6, 2016, and October 3, 2016, directed preparation of a plan of action by states and UTs to deal with the issue of overcrowding in prisons and the proposal was directed to be submitted by March 31, 2017, but not even one of them gave it.
About Under Trial Review Committee (UTRC) :-
The committee, set up in every district, deliberates and recommends the release of undertrial prisoners and convicts who have undergone their sentences or are entitled to be released from jail on bail or remission granted to them.
SC Bench Directives :-
- It directed the states and UTs to give their comments in two weeks on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the UTRCs, prepared in consultation with National Legal Service Authority (NALSA), so that they can work “effectively and efficiently”.
- If the comments of states and UTAs are not received in two weeks, then it will be assumed that they have nothing to offer and SOPs will be finalised and circulated for compliance.
- The apex court after perusing the status report of NALSA also voiced its concern over vacancies in the prison staff and directed the DGPs (Prisons) to specify “clearly and unequivocally” the steps taken to fill up the vacancies and progress made in two weeks.
Vacancies in Prison Staff :-
The combined sanctioned strength of prisons staff in all the prisons in the country is 77, 230, out of which there are 24, 588 vacancies as on December 31, 2017. Therefore, it is quite clear that there is slightly more than 30 per cent vacancies in the prisons staff.
Open Jails :-
The apex court was informed that the draft “Administration of Open Jails Act and Rules” will be finalised by April 30, 2018. Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening. The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with the society and reduce their psychological pressure as they faced lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside.
Prison Reforms have been in a talk so it is important to know what are the flaws in the present Prison system so we can move towards Prison Reforms & Open Jails in a better way.