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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jail visit to Tihar Prisons, New Delhi

A team of nine students and one faculty from Amity Legal Aid Cell, Amity Law School, AUUP visited Central Jail No. 5 of Tihar Prisons on 19th Sept, 2012. The main objective of the jail visit was to review and kick-start the Cell’s Prison Legal Aid Programme.
The team comprised of Asst. Prof. Utkarsh Yadav along with the following student members:
1.      Shekhar Banerjee
2.      Arnab Ghosal
3.      Tanmoy Sukul
4.      Raunak Satpathy
5.      Ishan Tewari
6.      Apoorva Singh
7.      Devika Gulati
8.      Ruchir Goenka
9.      Purva Sethi

The team arrived at Tihar Prisons Complex at 1100hrs and were accompanied inside Jail No. 5 by jail superintendant Mr. B.R. Meena. Once inside, the team got a rare opportunity to get an insight into the life of an inmate.
Asia’s largest Prison complex follows the reformative principle of punishment, wherein, every inmate is given the opportunity to start afresh a new life by acquiring the necessary required skills. The objective of this institution is to convert inmates into normal members of the society, providing them with useful skills in order to rehabilitate and reform them. The inmates are encouraged to work in the prison’s numerous factories, giving them the chance to acquire skills required to manufacture different products like shoes, detergent, soaps, incense, pottery, food items etc., hence, helping them build a base for an honest livelihood after completion of their sentences. The inmates are paid for their work in these factories, which they can use after their release. Inmates have access to various recreational facilities like sports, music, etc., and those interested in fulfilling their educational dreams can do so by enrolling into the numerous courses offered at Tihar. After completion of these courses, the inmates are handed Degrees by Indira Gandhi National Open University, and are then put on placements. One inmate has been known to have held forty four Degrees, while another reported a pay package of 9 Lakhs per annum.
Reformation can never be possible without properly nurturing the mind, and hence, Tihar also provides for extracurricular activities by organising Yoga and Vipassana Meditation camps, with the help of organisations like Art of Living, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Kumari Ishwariya Vishvavidyalaya , etc.

Every Jail in Tihar houses a Legal Aid Cell with facilities for drafting, typing and dealing with bail applications, appeals, revision etc. on behalf of the Jail inmates. It was noted by the team that while the existence of such Cells was commendable, hardly any of the lawyers appointed would ever show up in court on behalf of their clients. Thus, not many of the inmates were happy with the working of the Cell. The team expressed their interest in working with under trials in order to fast forward their bail applications and reduce the overwhelming population of the prison. To this, the Prison Welfare Officer suggested that Amity Legal Aid Cell tie up with Delhi Legal Services Authority to fulfil this objective.
The team members made it a point to question the Jail Superintendent and Welfare Officer on various issues relating from prisoner living conditions to security systems installed to welfare provisions for family members. After a long interactive session, the visit was concluded and with a vote of thanks to the Jail Superintendant and Law Officer, the team left the Prison Complex at 1330hrs.

-          Compiled by
Shekhar Banerjee
Amity Legal Aid Cell

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