Saturday, 29 January 2022

Rights of Prisoners-by Vedant Karia at LexCliq

 Rights of Prisoners-by Vedant Karia at LexCliq

The law regarding inmates' rights has evolved. It's a shame that a country like India lacks a prisoner's rights code. Detainees' rights and behaviour are not covered by detailed legislation. However, the country's judiciary has repeatedly upheld the inmates' fundamental rights. In the lack of comprehensive law, it has established precedents and principles defending prisoners' rights that guide and bind all Indian courts.

As previously stated, a person's conviction does not dehumanise them. He is still a human and deserves respect. He should be granted the basic human rights enjoyed by all men. But he should not be treated as a free individual with total rights and privileges. His freedom should be limited by law. These limits should also be appropriate.

The Supreme Court of India has been deliberating with the national and state governments for a long time to improve the prisoners' worsening health, which is critical due to jail overcrowding, a lack of training facilities, personnel, and inadequate infrastructure, among other factors. As a result, it is obligatory to invoke the prisoners' rights and constitutional protections. Unless and until these rights are spread and executed across the prism, they are a nullity and a violation of human faith in the criminal justice delivery system.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America, in Charles Wolff v. McDonnell, and the Supreme Court of India, in well-known cases such as DBM Patnaik v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, have both stated emphatically that it must be recognised that a prisoner is a human being as well as a natural or legal person. When a person is convicted of a crime, he is not reduced to the status of a non-person whose rights may be snatched away at the jail administration's whims. As a result, administering any significant punishment within the jail system is contingent upon the absence of procedural safeguards.

Fundamental rights are at the heart of India's human rights system. They are citizens' fundamental rights that cannot be revoked under any circumstances. The country's law also grants some of these rights to convicts, including Articles 14, 19, and 21. It cannot, however, enforce all of the fundamental rights to the benefit of the convicts. Giving prisoners the right to a fair trial is at the heart of Article 21. Article 19(5) is all about requiring reasonableness in any restriction, and vast discretion devolving into arbitrary discrimination is antithetical to Article 14. All of these assertions are backed up by several lower court and appellate court decisions. Several of these are detailed below.

In Francis Corahe Mullin v. The Administrator, UT Delhi Justice Bhagwati observed the rules laid down by Justice Douglas and Justice Marshall :

Mr Justice Dougals reiterated his thesis when he asserted: “Every prisoner’s liberty is,  of course, circumscribed by the very fact of his confinement, but his interest in the limited liberty left to him only the more substantial. Conviction of a crime does not render one a non-person whose rights are subject to the whim of the prison administration, and therefore, the imposition of any serious punishment within the prison system requires procedural safeguards.” Mr Justice Marshall also expressed himself clearly and explicitly in the same terms: “I have previously stated my views that a prisoner does not shed his basic constitutional rights at the prison gate and I fully support the court’s holding that the interest of inmate.”

In the case of the State of Andhra Pradesh v. Challa Ramkrishna Reddy, the court held that a prisoner is entitled to all the fundamental rights unless curtailed by the constitution. 

Rights Of Prisoners include:

  • Right to Privacy of prisoners and their spouses

  • Right against solitary confinement and bar fetters

  • Right to Life and personal liberty

  • Right to live with human dignity

  • Right to health and medical treatment

  • Right to a speedy trial

  • Right to legal aid

  • Right against Inhuman treatment

  • Right to Education

  • Right to publication

Behind bars, prisoners are still human beings. So that convicts do not become victims, the Supreme Court and numerous other Indian courts have reinforced this position. And are properly rehabilitated to help them improve and become better people. The Central and State governments must not only provide reasonable living circumstances but also educate the convicts on their rights so that they are not abused by the powerful inside the prison.

Whenever the legislative and executive have erred, the country's judiciary has stepped in to protect inmates' rights. It has often saved prisoners and defended their fundamental rights. It has continually devised new remedies and methods to preserve the human right to life and personal liberty. But much remains to be done. In this sense, widespread distribution of prisoners' rights, media coverage of prisoners' rights, and constant prison surveillance may be important to protecting prisoners' rights and ensuring their safety.

Vedant Karia


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