Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement ,one of the most important components of US penal (Prison) system continued as a common practice, when traced depicts long ago, somewhere in early 1800s, how thousands of inmates were allegedly held in isolation to confer penalties. With the scenario of Indian Criminal Justice System, which is largely influenced by Reformative Theories, Solitary Confinement can not easily mold itself into the concept of reformation with the ideology based on constitution of India, being less of reformation and more of punishment. The said punishment raises constitutional and humanitarian concern as the outcome of such penalty is inhumane punishment resulting as torture, which is unusual and violates the fundamental standards of decency/morality. 

In Solitary Confinement convict experiences stressful situation, which more than often leads to harmful health effect mentally and physically as well, whereas according to neuroscientific research social interaction and environmental stimulation for an individual are held to be essential for healthy physiological brain function.
The Indian Constitution however, aims to protect the rights of individual irrespective of their status. Solitary Confinement indisputably violates the safeguards provided under “Article 21″ of the Indian Constitution, which mentions freedom of life and liberty.

The Solitary Confinement , which was first alleged to be traced in late 18th century. Where ,In 1829, Few individuals were subjected to an experiment done in United States at the eastern state penitentiary in Philadelphia. 

According to QuakerThe intention was to separate the prisoners from the whippings and public humiliation in the beginning, for the reason based over beliefs that prisoners isolated with bible in cell would use their time to pray, regret and realise their mistakes and crime, but eventually they were found committing suicides, turning mentally insane and becoming socially dysfunctional. 
Solitary Confinement is often explained to be imposed for various reasons to manage prisoners who are difficult to tackle or dangerous to deal with.  
From experiencing physiological to physical symptoms of illness due to Confinement ,a victim of the same goes through alot provided the socio changes around oneself effects more than often in a negative way. Several scientific research show how Solitary Confinement foundationally affect an individual’s brain causing critical psychological issues and expanding abnormal and aggressive behaviour. 
Prisoner in Solitary Confinement may often result in many medical complexities like –Visual and Auditory discrepancies, Insomnia ,Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Aggression, Suicidal Tendencies,Feeling of fear and death, hypersensitivity to noise and touch and many other serious disorders.
These symptoms sometimes even stay after the expiry of the period of Solitary Confinement leading to difficulty for the individuals to reintegrate into the society.

While on the one hand, Section 29, Prisons Act, 1894 deals with solitary confinement and depicts “No cell shall be used for Solitary Confinement unless it is furnished with the means of enabling the prisoner to speak at any time with Prison’s officer and every prisoner who is confined in a cell for more than twenty-four hours shall be visited at least once a day by the Medical Officer”

On the other hand, As per Section 73 of IPC, 1860 “Solitary Confinement is permissible only when the perpetrator has committed such an offence under the code that’s punishable with rigorous punishment. The period scale of Solitary Confinement must be followed provided in the section. Therefore, in instances of imprisonment not exceeding six months, confinement shall not exceed one month, in cases of imprisonment exceeding six months but not exceeding one-year confinement shall not exceed two months, and in cases of imprisonment exceeding one-year confinement shall not exceed three months. The maximum period of confinement provided under the said section is three months.”

As per Section 74 of IPC, 1860 details about the limits of solitary confinement which further states that “In no case a prisoner should not be kept for more than 14 days at a time. This section empowers the judiciary with Solitary confinement not to be given for more than three months and if it exceeds three months than in such case confinement shall not exceed seven days in a month”.

Within also the ambit of “The Constitution of India” with articles as Article 14 and Article 21- The life of every single individual is safeguarded with appropriate measures to be provided with liberty and freedom of live irrespective of penalties and restrictions imposed.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of which the US is a party needs corrections with the authorities to have a regularisation check in respect of the inherent dignity of every prisoner for reason it violates human rights by not adapting the rationale of reformation criterion among offenders based on their situation instead based on their category of crimes.

In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration 
The hon’ble court concluded that “Prisoner can be kept in solitary confinement only in rarest of rare case for it would violate Article 21 of the Constitution. It also violates prisoner’s right under Section 30(2) and 56 of Prison Act, 1894 which are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution”

In Unni Krishnan &Ors.v. State of Andhra Pradesh &Ors.
Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “Right against solitary confinement is one of the rights that falls under the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution. The court pronounced the privilege against isolation will be tackled well when countering with the said Article”.

Solitary confinement hence can be concluded to be, lesser in nature of punishment and more of a cruel inhumane punishment. Whereas, Section 73 and 74 of the Indian penal code,1860 give it legal recognition but by putting certain limitation it’s limitless expansion surely comes to an end. Being also Violative of Article 14 and 21, The Constitution of India, the punishment shall be deferred from upto an extent it be treated as the last option and not the prior one.
By also reducing punishment as a penalty for good behaviour and instead involving the prisoners with social positive engagements and public interest selfless work managements a positive alternative to solitary confinement can be provided with safety measures adopted. For the reason being reformation of society and mindset can only change the individuals and not stricter inhumane actions, for the better development of not only an individual but the entire nation.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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