This article is written by Akansha Sethi, a student of Delhi Metropolitan Education
Prisoners are the people who are held guilty for the act committed that is against the law. Prisoners are also known as the group of people who are deprived of their liberty. After a long discussion of landmark judgments and precedents, it was concluded that there should be no that are deprived of their liberty fully. Therefore, many countries including India came up with a few set of rules and actions that makes their condition of the right to dignity better but there is still a void in them. One of the examples in our country only like India does have the right of prisoners but still, they are not codified. Thus, it’s going to take a lot of time to get evolved in this situation fully, It is not like prisoners have all the right to freedom or liberty they have few restrictions which makes them feel that they are still acquitted for the crime they committed and not free of all the charges. In this article, we are going to discuss Prisoners Rights in India
The situation of the right of prisoners has never been status once the constitution is recognized fully in the country. Many landmark cases came up with the bringing of new changes that are needed to be there in this topic. The foremost cause that comes up in this topic was the case of Jagmohan Singh v. the State of U.P., AIR 1973 SC 947 it was a five bench judgment held in the supreme court where it was held the death penalty was not a violation of article 14 and 19 of the constitution and the recent case that is the case of V. Radhakrishnan vs The State Of Tamil Nadu (2019) which gives the rights to prisoners to seek a transfer to the prison near to their family for the safety purpose of the family members. Therefore, The rights of prisoners have come a long way.
RIGHTS OF PRISONERS
After such a long journey there are so many basic fundamental things that the prisoners are deprived of regarding which the supreme court is emphasizing both central and state government for providing proper infrastructure and more proper quality of food to the prisoners. The prisons of India are overcrowded with very poor infrastructure. Declining or ignoring this is related to ignoring the basic fundamental rights that are provided to every person of the country/
Fundamental rights are the rights that are to be enjoyed by every individual in the country. There is a total of six fundamental rights in India. Though the prisoners do have a few restrictions for section 14 of eliminating discrimination and raises the concept of equality section 19 permitted the state to impose by law reasonable restrictions on this right in the interests and section 21 Giving prisoners the Right to Fair procedure. Many landmark cases supported this argument and a few of them are :
State of Andhra Pradesh v. Challa Ramakrishna Reddy– In this, it was held that no person should be deprived of fundamental rights not even prisoners unless and until the constitution itself limits the extent of the rights.
State of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang Sanzgir– In this it was held that every prisoner should enjoy fundamental rights except there is only one restriction that is confinement it means they are not allowed to cross the walls of the jail.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
This right is one of the most important yet one of the most infringed right in India. The concept of the right to privacy first came up in the 1950s. Right to Life and Liberty is one of the major components of section 21
RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN RECENT TIMES
The right to privacy has been through many changes to make its proper existence in this case of prisoners, It can be proved with the further case law:
Rohit Shekha v. N.D Tiwari– In this, it was held that there won’t be anything to take place to infringe the rights of privacy of the prisoners. Even during investigation manipulation of questions to extract something personal information is prohibited. The court also did a brief examination of the jurisprudence that permits compulsory testing or involuntary drawing of samples and stated that judicial precedents in such cases emerge in criminal prosecution related to serious offenses like those involving narcotic substances, manslaughter, murder, or sexual offenses. In all of these cases, the court has carefully weighed the interest of justice in the context of public policy and the privacy of an individual while examining the permissibility of compulsory testing.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY OF PRISONERS AND THEIR SPOUSES
Rahmath Nisha v. Additional Director General of Prisoner and Others, In this case, it was held to give privacy to the prisoner and their spouses. The conversation between the prisoner and their spouse will not be monitored by the jail authority. It also came up in this case that holding a hand as a physical gesture of emotion should be monitored by the jail authority and it would not be considered prohibited.
RIGHT AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration This was a landmark judgment where it was held that no prisoners unless and until specified by the judge will be given the punishment of solitary confinement. The punishment of solitary confinement means that the prisoner is kept in a dark cell without any source of communication with any other inmates which leads to animal-level behavior in the prisoners and also affects their mental health deeply.
RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL
Every prisoner has a right to demand a speedy trial in their case.
AR Antulay v. RS Nayak this case comes up with the right to a speedy trial in the case of prisoners. The acquitted person will go through every investigation or proceeding that happens under trial, no certain amount of time limit was mentioned as such. Therefore, the prisoner can also demand a speedy trial.
Many other rights are given to the Prisoners like the Right to Education. Right to Legal Aid, Right against inhuman treatment, and Right to health and medical treatment. These are the few rights that the prisoners can not be deprived of in today’s times.
ENACTMENT AND RULES
After noticing the whole condition of prisoners of India from the infrastructure of the prisons to the mental health of the prisoners. There were many acts introduced to safeguard the rights of the prisoners
- THE PRISONERS ACT, 1894
This was the first act enacted in India for transforming the condition of the prisoners. In this act, many things were introduced like proper and clean accommodation of prisoners, sections related to pay attention to the mental health of the prisoners, health examination by the medical team, separation of male and female prison cells, the section on prisoners under trial, parole or temporary release
2. THE PRISONERS ACT. 1990
In this, few new amendments were made which states that the authority of the government has to remove the prisoner held under the sentence of lunatic or of unfit mind. Another amendment that was made is Any court which is a high court may in the case in which it has recommended to the government to make the prisoner free once he is out of the trial and give them their liberty back.
3. The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950:
This act was made for transferring of prisoners due to any reason like overpopulation or congested way of living in the jail. so the prisoner can transfer to another jail.
4. The Prisoners (Attendance in Courts) ACT, 1955:
This act mentions that a prisoner can be removed from the prison to give the evidence in a criminal or civil court case.
The rights of prisoners in today’s time have come a long way. Earlier prisoners had zero Rights. Many landmark judgments helped in this process each case law brings a new change in the condition of the prisoners. Prisoners are the people only who are deprived of few rights that are not even fully deprived they have few restrictions on them. That does not mean that once they get into the cell every fundamental right is null for them They have a restriction like they are not allowed to move anytime and anywhere like a free person. Other rights like the Right to Education, Right to Legal Aid, Right to Speedy Trial, Right to Privacy, and many more rights are given to them like the free person. The Right against solitary confinement has proven out to be a major step focusing on preserving the mental health of the prisoners. Therefore even India came a long way in enacting the rules for prisoners and creating different acts and making amendments. All these actions have helped altogether to provide better conditions in the prisons. Though few jails do not follow every condition, therefore, few more changes are yet to be done.
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