Apex court favours separate jail for terrorists

February 5th, 2009 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) Separate high-security prisons should be built in states to house terrorists and gangsters, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday while stating that law and order and prisons are state subjects.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam passed the ruling while hearing a lawsuit seeking enhanced security for jails in the wake of a spate of jail breaks in 2004.

“There should be separate jails for terrorists,” said the chief justice, adding: “They should be high security prisons like those in Delhi and Mumbai.”

The chief justice made the observation, while discarding petitioner Manzoor Ali Khan’s counsel D.K. Garg’s plea that there should be a centralized authority to ensure the security of jails to prevent jail breaks.

“We cannot give such directions,” said the chief justice pointing out that law and order and prisons are state subjects, to be administered only by state governments and not the central government.

The bench asked the petitioner to amend his demand to enable the court to make a suitable order for separate jail for terrorists.

The suit had been filed in 2004 following a spurt of jail breaks that year.

In the Burail jail break on January 2004, a Babbar Khalsa operative Jatar Singh Hawara and three others facing trial in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh had escaped by digging an underground tunnel in collusion with jail officials.

On Feb 13 that year, four under-trials had escaped from Danapur jail near Patna in Bihar. This was followed by another jail break on Feb 17, when Sher Singh Rana, accused in the murder of Samajwadi Party parliamentarian and former bandit queen Phoolan Devi, gave police the slip from Tihar Jail in Delhi.

Again the same year, eight inmates escaped from Chapra jail in Bihar after exploding a bomb in the jail in collusion with jail officials.

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