Mumbai: Yet to get money from Maharashtra govt to buy new books for library as asked by HC, say Taloja prison | Photo: Representative Image
The authorities of Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai have said they are yet to get money from the Maharashtra government to purchase more books for library as ordered by the Bombay High Court during a hearing of a bail plea filed by activist Anand Teltumbe.
Teltumbde, an accused in the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case, is currently lodged in Taloja jail.
The prison authorities had refused a book by British author P G Wodehouse to Teltumbde in April this year, and was then directed by the high court to spruce up the library of the prison.
Responding to a query filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the authorities have said the prison library currently has 2,998 books for over 3,000 inmates lodged in the facility.
On April 7, a bench led by Justice S B Shukre had directed that a cost of Rs 15,000 imposed on litigants in different cases be diverted towards purchasing new books for the Taloja prison.
The bench had given the directions while hearing a bail plea filed by Teltumbde.
During the hearing, the activist’s counsel, senior advocate Mihir Desai had informed the court that the Taloja prison authorities had refused to hand over a P G Wodehouse book to Teltumbde that had been sent for him by his family members, citing a “security risk”.
The claim had prompted the bench to ask if “humour had been banished from the prison?”, and it had sought a list of books that were provided in the prison library to inmates.
The state government had at the time said that while the Taloja prison did not have many books, it was not a problem since “not every inmate read books”.
In their response to an RTI query sent last week, the Taloja prison authorities said that they had not purchased any new books in the last three years as no money had been received by the state either because of its own policy or following the high court order.
“We are yet to receive the money as directed by the Bombay High Court following its April 7, 2022 order (imposing cost and saying it be diverted for purchase of books),” the RTI reply reads.
During the hearing on Teltumbde’s bail plea, the state’s counsel Sangeeta Shinde had submitted that the Taloja prison library had “roughly around 2,800 books”.
At the time, the court had remarked that even a secondary school library will have more books than the Taloja prison.
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