“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. – Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Traditionally, prison means a place in which persons are kept in custody when trail is pending or in which they are confined as punishment after conviction. Prisoners are deprived of various basic rights, whether fundamental or human rights. Over the past 30 years, the Supreme Court of India has reiterated the principle “imprisonment does not spell farewell to fundamental rights”. Thus, the Court has cordially declared that for a prisoner the fundamental rights are enforceable reality, though restricted by the fact of imprisonment.
According to the Supreme Court, while physical assaults are to be totally eliminated even pushing the prisoners into a solitary cell, denial and necessary facility, transferring prisoners to a distant prison, allotment of degrading labour, assigning him/her to desperate or tough gang, etc. must satisfy Articles 21, 11 and 19 of the Constitution.
The various rights of prisoners are:
- Right against inhuman behaviour and torture
The Supreme Court of India in several cases has highlighted the harsh treatments faced by prisoners and directed state and prison authorities to check and regulate the same. The court also prohibited the use of instruments such as handcuffs, chains, irons and straitjackets in punishing the prisoners. Some other instruments of restraint are permissible but only under certain circumstances.
- Right to speedy trial
Delay in justice is justice denied. An accused is not guilty until proven guilty. The Indian judiciary known for its long judicial process many times leads to torture of accused not even guilty. Delay in granting bail, torture in custody all, these things give rise to need of speedy trial. Even speedy trial is a well-known human right in many countries. Moreover, the right to a speedy trial is also contained under Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. If this provision of the Cr.PC is followed and implemented in its true spirit, all the grievances and queries of prisoners could be resolved.
In AR Antulay v. RS Nayak, the court held that right of speedy trial is available to a person in all the stages of investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal etc.
- Right available against solitary confinement and bar fetters
Solitary confinement is a kind of imprisonment in which the convict or prisoner is kept in a different cell with little or no contact from other inmates. In addition to that strict monitoring is done on the habits and behaviour of the person. The right against solitary confinement was highlighted in the case of Sunil Batra v. Delhi administration where by the hon’ble court held that the imposition of solitary confinement can only be made in exceptional cases where the prisoner of such violent or dangerous nature that segregation is necessary.
- Right to health and medical treatment
This right is based on Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution of India incorporates provisions guaranteeing every individual the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
- Right to legal aid
Though the Right to Legal Aid is not something explicitly given by the Constitution, the legal executives often display kindness towards detainees who cannot afford it or simply connect with the legal counsellor voluntarily. Free Legal Aid is included by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, as one of the directive principles of state policy under Article 39A. As exemplified in the case of Madhav Hayawadan Rao Hosket vs. the State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court perusing Articles 21 and 39-A, alongside Article 142 and area 304 of Cr.PC together pronounced that the Government was under obligation to offer legitimate types of assistance to the charged people.
Other rights include:
- Right to meet friends and consult lawyer,
- Right to reasonable wages in prison.
- Right of inmates of protective homes,
- Right against cruel and unusual punishment,
- Right to a fair trial,
- Right against custodial violence and death in police lock-ups or encounters
Conversations around prison reforms and rights of prisoners in India will always be a controversial debate, we have to remember that prisoners are also human beings and to answer in the negative is to convict the nation and the Constitution of dehumanization which will repudiate the world’s legal order. It could be said that the judiciary of the country has played a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of prisoners whenever the legislative and executive have erred. It has acted as the savior of the convicts and upheld their fundamental rights time and time again.
Rights of prisoners and major judgments on it
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.
Do follow me on Facebook, Twitter Youtube and Instagram.
The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.
If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Leave a Reply