The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would constitute a panel to examine problems in Indian jails and recommend solutions. The top court, which was hearing a petition about poor conditions at 1,382 prisons across the country, said a retired judge would head the panel and it would comprise of officials from the Centre.

The court said it wants the panel to focus on problems such as overcrowding, challenges faced by women inmates, and lack of facilities.

Justices MB Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta pulled up the government for not utilising the funds the court had ordered it to collect for the benefit of inmates.

Attorney General KK Venugopal accepted the court’s direction on behalf of the government but added that the Centre was addressing several problems in India.

The Supreme Court set the next hearing for August 17. “We are making it clear that we have not and we are not criticising the government for everything,” Lokur said.

On August 5, the court said it was disappointed that several states had not appointed a board of visitors to ensure prisons are run in compliance with rules.