Prisoners in 1382 jails across the country are living in inhuman conditions. Large number of people languishing in jails in “complete violation” of their rights despite recommendations for their release by the legal services authority. Worse, the undertrial review committees (UTRCs), set up in every district that recommend release of under trial prisoners and convicts, is not functioning properly.

The supreme court on Tuesday observed that the functioning of UTRCs need some revamping.

“It appears that there is some fine-tuning that is required to be made in respect of functioning of UTRC,” a bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. The bench viewed that jail officials must be made part of the  UTRCs in the states and a standard operating procedure in this regard should be put in place.

The bench accepted the suggestion of advocate Gaurav Agrawal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, that superintendent of jails should take part in the meetings of UTRC. The amicus curiae told the bench that he would discuss with the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) and the states in framing a standard operating procedure to make the functioning of UTRCs more efficient. He also told the court that a draft questionnaire, prepared by him for responses to be given by the states on various aspects of jail and prison management, was likely to be put on a portal by ministry of home affairs (MHA) within four weeks.

Meanwhile, the MHA has called a meeting of inspector generals (IGs) of prisons of all states on November 16 to discuss the issues relating to jail management, the attorney general K K Venugopal told the bench.

The bench said it expected that state governments and the authorities would deal with the issue, keeping in mind that it pertains to human rights which must be given priority.

The bench has fixed the matter for further hearing on December 12.