Friday, 3 June 2022

Prison Act, 1894


A prison is a unisex world where every inmate is stigmatized and has to carry on tightly

scheduled activities in the company of strangers. The inmates are deprived of liberty, privileges,

emotional security and hetero-sexual relations. Formal code of prison cannot always cope with

the situation. The conditions in Indian jail were horrible upto 1919-20. 1 st prison Act was enacted

in 1894. It could not provide sufficient remedial measures to the 80% of the Prisoners who are

under trials and a majority of them live in overcrowded prisons where medical facilities are poor

and inadequate.

There are many jails where prisoners are packed together with no space even to sleep and having

no comfortable living with minimum standard of diet. The National Expert Committee on

Women Prisoners with justice Krishna Iyer as its chairman in 1987 stated after visiting many

women prisoners that both prisoners and the prison staff suffer from ‘pathology of

misinformation or, ignorance of their rights and limitation’.

This often leads to callous disregard of human rights. Prison Act 1994 governs the administration

of prisons. The All India committee of Jail Reforms 1980-83 has recommended, inter alia, the

upgrading and updating, revision and consolidation of all prison laws. However action towards

developing a uniform legal framework has been hampered, because the subject of prisons falls in

the state list of the seventh schedule of the constitution and the central government was reluctant

to intervene.

After amending the constitution the subject prison has been brought to concurrent list. There

after a national consensus on various aspects evolved through an active interaction with

legislator, policy makers, administrators and experts and human right activists. Prison Act also

provides the policy formulation and principles of prison administration. While the police and

judiciary play the major role of convicting and sentencing the offender, it is the prison where the

prisoner is controlled and reformed.

A prison today serves the purpose of being custodial, a deterrent, coercive, lucrative,

reformative, correctional, rehabilitative and for resocialization. It is not an independent system of

power, but an instrument of the state shaped by its social milieu and by the stage of economic,

social and political development. It is a structure of ruling caste and subordinate caste.

The casual executive staff superintendent (from administrative code)


Jailor (from Jail cadre)


Assistant Jailor (from Jail Cadre)


Sub-assistant jailor (Jail Cadre)


Chief Head Warden (Jail Cadre)


Wardens (mail) wardens (female)



Apart from afore stated executive staff pattern there are several correctional staff who offer

welfare services to prisoners or, perform routine clerical job at the prison following the Prisons

Act. Yet maltreatment of prisoners is common throughout India.

Prison Act, 1894 by Velanati Jyothirmai @ Lex Cliq

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