Chandigarh, Mar 16: The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) in its latest report said Punjab jails were overcrowded and there was a shortage of staff, resulting in a weak monitoring system.
The most glaring aspect pointed out in the report was that 145 prisoners escaped between 2002 and 2006, of these only five prisoners were re-arrested. The First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed in only three cases and enqiries finalised in two cases only.
In 76 cases, officers concerned did not report to the IGP (prisons) whether inquiry, if any, was insituted, which was against the jail manual. In remaining 66 cases action was initiated but was not finalised.
The manual provides that a brief report of every escape that took place would be submitted to the IGP and a copy of the same would be sent to the government, but neither of the two was done, the report stated.
The jail manual also provides that the prisoners who are on trial should be palced in the police custody for conveyance to the courts on the dates mentioned in the warrant of the prisoner and that the state would endeavour to evolve proper meachnism to ensure that no under-trial was unncessarily detained.
Records of nine out of 10 jails revealed that during April 2006 and March 2007, 21,990 under-trial prisoners were not produced in the courts on due dates due to lack of police escort.
According to the report in nine out of 10 jails, ratio of the authorised security staff varied from 1:1 to 15:1 and that of actual prisoner population to security staff in position from 3:1 to 16:1.
Thus, the security staff sanctioned for a jail did not bear any relation to the authorised capacity of the jail.
The Model Prison Manual recommends in principle one guarding staff for every six prisoners.
Regarding over crowding, the report pointed out that this problem was beyond 25 per cent in six out of 10 jails that were test checked. There was no over crowding in Central Jail, Ludhiana as per the sanctioned strength, it said.
The authorised capacity of the jails in Punjab was 11,274 in 2005-06, but the average actual number of prisoners admitted was 14,822. While in 2006-07 the number of prisoners rose to 15,019.