NCRB 2019 data says that there are 1350 functional jails in India, with a total capacity of approximately 4 Lakh prisoners but actual strength exceeds 4.78 lakh.
Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, understaffing and underfunding. The inevitable outcome is subhuman living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes etc. In 1995, Rajesh Pillai who was detained for extradition to Singapore for an economic offence died in Tihar jail.
The Leila Seth commission to inquire about his death deduced that the failure to give him appropriate and timely medical attention led to his death.
Under trials lose four of their fundamental rights: the right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation, and freedom of dignity. And the legal right to vote as well. The National Crime Records Bureau data reports the death of over 1,800 prisoners in the year 2018. A large percentage of those dying in prison is not convicted of any offence.
No conduct of the prison authority is criminalised. It grants the jail authorities immunity and presumes their good faith in acts of extreme neglect that could result in the death of inmates. There is no separation between hard hand criminals and petty under trails. Above all, Prison is a State subject in India.
Judgements over the condition of prisons are as follows, Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (1978)*, where the court held that the humane thread of jail jurisprudence runs through Indian prisons, under which no prison authority enjoys amnesty for unconstitutionality. Delhi High Court in Nina Pillai & Ors v. Union of India** directed the payment of Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the petitioners and the implementation of the Leila Seth Commission’s recommendations.
Recently, Justice Amitava Roy panel on prison reforms elaborated submitted its report on February 2020 with major recommendations which includes, recommendations for overcrowding such as, special fast-track courts should be set up to deal with petty offences. For lawyers, the prisoners ratio there should be at least one lawyer for every 30 prisoners. For Understaffing, the Supreme Court should pass directions to start the recruitment process against vacancies. There should be the use of video-conferencing for trial. For Prisoners, every new prisoner should be allowed a free phone call a day to his family members to see him through his first week in jail. Alternative punishments should be explored.
It is the responsibility of the State and the judiciary to ensure that prisoners are only deprived of their liberty. They shouldn’t be exposed to any additional torture in the form of medical deprivation, unhygienic conditions, bad or inadequate food etc.
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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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world.