Assessment on the implementation of prison legislation in India in practical setup

It is not the prisoners that need reformation, it is the prisons” – Oscar Wilde Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer has rightly observed: “In our world prisons are still laboratories of torture, warehouses in which human commodities are sadistically kept and where spectrums of inmates range from drift-wood juveniles to heroic dissenters”

The Concept and Working of Open Prison in India Among other things, the open institution is based on the already recognised fact that not all offenders need to be sent to prisons 13. The UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders at Geneva, in 1955, described open prison in the following words: “An open prison is characterised by the absence of material or physical precautions against escape (walls, locks, bars, armed or speared security guards) and by a system based on self-discipline and the inmates sense of responsibility towards the group in which he lives.

The idea is to help a prisoner to re-socialize with the outside world and rehabilitate and reform himself so as to be ready to absorb the environment of outside world once his term of imprisonment is over. However, a prisoner who has been sentenced to life imprisonment could also be sent to open prison depending upon the fulfilment of certain conditions or rules. The open jails in India involve the activities such as farming and animal husbandry.

The Prisons Act, 1894: It contains various provisions relating to health, employment, duties of jail officers, medical examination of prisoners, prison offences etc. Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950 – The Act deals with transfer of prisoner from state to another state Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003: The act enables the transfer of foreign prisoners to the country of their origin to serve the remaining part of their sentence. It also enables the transfer of prisoners of Indian origin convicted by a foreign court to serve their sentence in India Model Prison Manual 2016: It aims at bringing in basic uniformity in laws, rules and regulations governing the administration of prisons and the management of prisoners across all the states and UTs in India Legal service Authority Act, 1987: According to the law, a person in custody is entitled to free legal aid.

Mulla Committee, 1983: The major recommendations of the committee included: The setting up of a National Prison Commission to oversee the modernization of the prisons in India Putting a ban on clubbing together juvenile offenders with the hardened criminals in prison and enacting a comprehensive and protective legislation for the security and protective care of delinquent juveniles Segregation of mentally ill prisoners to a mental asylum The conditions of prison should be improved by making adequate arrangements for food, clothing, sanitation and ventilation etc. Lodging of under trial in jails should be reduced to bare minimum and they should be kept separate from the convicted prisoners Krishna Iyer Committee, 1987.

The committee mandated to study the condition of women prisoners in the country, recommended induction of more women in the police force in view of their special role in tackling women and child offenders. Steps taken: Modernization of Prisons scheme:The scheme for modernisation of prisons was launched in 2002-03 with the objective of improving the condition of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel. Various components included construction of new jails, repair and renovation of existing jails, improvement in sanitation and water supply etc. E-Prisons Project: It aims to introduce efficiency in prison management through digitization Draft National Policy on Prison Reforms and Correctional Administration: Key features include: Amending the constitution to include principles of prison management and treatment of under trials under DPSP; and including prisons in concurrent list Enactment of uniform and comprehensive law on matters related to prisons.

A department of Prisons and Correctional Services to be opened in each state State shall endeavour to provide alternatives to prisons such as community service, forfeiture of property, payment of compensation to victims, public State shall improve the living conditions in every prison and allied institution. India’s International Obligations: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): It is the core international treaty on the protection of the rights of prisoners. Key features include: It imposes a requirement of separation of prisoners in pre-trial detention from those already convicted of crimes. It states that there is a requirement that the focus of prisons should be reform and rehabilitation, not punishment It bans torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR): It acknowledges that the prisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Further, second generation economic and social human rights as set down in the ICESR also apply to the prisoners. United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners or Nelson Mandela Rules: Fundamental principles on Nelson Mandela Rules are: Prisoners must be treated with respect for their human rights and dignity No torture or inhumane practice towards prisoners Set an objective to prevent recurrence of crime Everyone in the prison should be safe at all times There should be no discrimination and administrators should take into account needs of individual prisoners especially the vulnerable ones UN Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT): India signed UNCAT in 1997. However, has not yet ratified it.

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.

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