The word prisoner means any person who has committed an act which is prohibited by the law and is therefore kept under custody in a jail or a prison. A prisoner can also be referred to as an inmate. Their liberty is mostly taken away by confinement or forceful restrain
The term prisoner is defined under Section 1 of the Prison Security Act1992. The word prisoner means a human being who is in a prison for a particular time is being as a results of any order which is imposed by a court or otherwise he be held in legal custody.
Prisoners rights deal with the rights of the people while they are in jail. Just like normal person, prisoners also have basic legal rights that cannot be taken away from them. Prisoner's rights in India are still evolving. It is a matter of shame that India still doesn't have a codified law regarding the rights of prisoners. Along with that there are no comprehensive legislation that deals with the rights of prisoners and to regulate their conduct while they are in jail. However, Indian judiciary system does give due importance to the fundamental rights of the prisoners. Without proper legislation, the prisoners’ rights are managed with the help of precedents and principles that uphold different rights of the convicts.
The Indian judiciary has used Fundamental Rights from time to time to the rescue of the convicts. In the celebrated case of Charles Sobraj through Marie Andre’s v. The Superintendent, Tihar Jail, the Supreme Court Judge held that: Being within the walls of prison doesn’t means the end of a person’s fundamental rights, though by reasonable re-appraisal the court may refuse to recognise the full panoply of part III of the Indian Constitution that are enjoyed by a free citizen of India. He further stated that the imprisonment of a prisoner is not only retribution or deterrence but along with that it is also rehabilitation.
CONSTITUTIONAL AND OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE RIGHTS OF PRISONERS IN INDIA
PRISONER’S RIGHT UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
The Constitution of India offers us fundamental rights which cannot be violated. They are not absolute in nature; they come with reasonable restrictions but are available to every citizen. The rights available to the prisoners are enumerated in part III of the constitution of India. Our preamble also speaks about protecting every citizen and establishing peace and harmony. In T.V. Vatheeswaran V. State of Tamil Nadu (1983 AIR 361, 1983 SCR (2) 348), the court said that Article 14, 19 and 21 are available to both prisoners and freemen. Fundamental Rights are even valid within the walls of a prison.
ARTICLE 14- RIGHT TO EQUALITY Article 14 of the constitution states that no citizen shall be denied with equality before law and equal protection of law. It is supported the principle of rule of law. It says that similar people should be treated in the same manner.
ARTICLE 19- RIGHT TO FREEDOM Article 19 guarantees six basic rights to every Indian citizen-
Freedom to speech and expression
Freedom to become member of an association
Freedom of movement freely
Freedom to settle and reside in anywhere within the territory of India.
Freedom to peacefully assemble
Freedom of carry any profession, occupation, trade or business within the territory of India.
Of all these mentioned rights, the last four are not available to prisoners because of their punishments but rest of all can be enjoyed by them.
ARTICLE 20- PROTECTION AGAINST CONVICTION FOR OFFENCES Article 20 clause 1 provides that no person shall convicted of any offence expect for violation of law in force and shall not be given a punishment greater than that have been mentioned under the law of the country. Clause 2 provides that an individual shall not be punished for the same offence more than once. Clause 3 states that an accused cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself.
ARTICLE 21- RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY Article 21 prohibits any cruel, inhuman or disregarding treatment to any person. The rights recognized for the prisoners are as follows-
1. Right to speedy trial- For a procedure to be reasonable, just or fair speedy trial should be ensured. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. UOI (1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621), the court held that a procedure that doesn’t ensure quick trial cannot be regarded as just or fair and falls out of article 21.
2. Rights against handcuffing- handcuffing of an individual has been held as harsh and inhumane and violative of article 21. In the famous case of Prem Shankar V. UOI (1980 AIR 1535, 1980 SCR (3) 855) , the courts held that handcuffing should be resorted when there is clear and present danger.
3. Rights against bar fetters- In the case of Sunil Batra V. Delhi Administration (1980 AIR 1579, 1980 SCR (2) 557) , the SC held that no individual shall be tortured and reduced to the level of a beast as it will violate FR (article 14 and 21)
4. Right against public hanging- In the case of Attorney General of India V. Lachma Devi (1989 SCC [CRI] 413) , the court held that no person can be held publically, it violates article 21 of the Indian constitution.
5. Rights against delayed execution- prolonged detention to await the execution of a sentence of death has been held to be unfair, unjust and unreasonable, violative of article 21. In the case of TV Vatheeswaran V. State of Tamil Nadu 1983 AIR 361, 1983 SCR (2) 348, the appellant was sentenced to death, but it was executed for 8 years. The SC accepted the contention of the appellant and held that the only way to undo the wrong done to him would be to quash the sentence of death.
6. Rights against inhuman treatment- The incident of assault, torture, injury and deaths in police custody have been regarded as words form of violation of human rights. In the case of Kishore Singh V. State of Rajasthan (1954 Raj 264), he court held that use of third degree methods are violative of Article 21.
ARTICLE 22- PROTECTION AGAINST ARREST AND DETENTION
Article 22 of the constitution provides that any person arrested has a right to consult a legal practitioner of his choice and shall be produced before a magistrate before 24 hours excluding the time of its journey to the court. In the case of Dhrambir V. State of U. P (1979 AIR 1595, 1980 SCR (1) 1), the court held that the state government should allow prisoner’s family members to visit the prison at least once in a year
OTHER STATUTORY PROVISIONS
The Prisoners Act, 1990
It is the duty of the government for removing any prisoner detained under any order or sentence of any court of India, who is of unsound mind to a lunatic asylum and other place where he will be given proper care and attentive treatment.
The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950.
This act was passed to avoid over-population in prisons; prisoners are transferred from one state to another for vocational training and to get rid from overcrowding.
Along with the country many foreign layout are also responsible for a good prison system, discuss in detail below:
International Human Rights
International Human Rights Law protect from various inequalities like racism, discrimination among poor and elite group of persons. According to them, nobody shall be subjected to punishment more than prescribes by law or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment .
Clothing is considered as a component to an adequate standard of living standard. There should be a proper hygiene system where prisoners live. All prisoners to be given a proper medical examination and treatment as soon as possible after they are admitted . They also recognize the rights of specific groups of individuals, including women, children and disable peoples
The General Assembly officially announced a few basic principles for the improvement and better treatment of the prisoners on December 14, 1990 as mentioned below:
Prisoners should be treated with dignity and valued as human beings and not only as prisoners.
Prisoners to undertake meaningful rewarded employment which will facilitate their reintegration into the country’s labour market and back in the society. It will also allow them to add to their own financial support themselves and their families.
There shall be no discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, language, religion, political, national and social origin, birth, or other category.
Easy access to health services facilities without any discrimination on the grounds of their legal circumstances.
The responsibility of the prisons for the custody of prisoners and for the protection of the society against crime and to promote the well-being and improvement of all members of the society.
Abolishing solitary confinement which is a severe mode of punishment, or restriction of its use, should be kept in notice.
Respect the religious beliefs and cultural percepts of the group to which the prisoners belong.
With the help and participation of the public and social organizations and with regard to the likeness of victims, favorable conditions should be created for the bringing the ex-prisoner back into mainstream society.
All prisoners shall have the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in ICCPR, ICESCR UDHR, and the optional protocol as well as such other rights are set out under in other United Nations covenants
All the above principles should be applied without any partiality.
UN Core Conventions and Specific Instruments:
The Standard Minimum Rules For The Treatment of Prisoners Amnesty International in 1955 came up with some basic rules for the treatment of prisoners. The rules are as follow:
There must be equality among all; there should be no discrimination on basis of sex, color, race, religion, political opinion, social or national origin, birth, property or other position among prisoners.
Protection against severe punishment, torture, degrading treatment or other cruel inhuman behavior.
Complete separation between civil prisoners and persons imprisoned by reason of criminal offence; young prisoners should be kept separate from the adult prisoners.
At least one qualified Medical officer should be available all the time with the knowledge of psychotherapy.
Men and women should be detained in separate institution as far as possible.
State party needs to take effective judicial, legislative and other measures to prevent acts of torture.
All sorts of cruel inhuman degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited.
Free services and easy access to health services facilities without any biasness merely on the grounds of their legal circumstances
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In 1948 a movement was started within the United Nations within the sort of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted within the United Nations’ General Assembly.
This organic document is additionally called as Human Rights Declaration. This chief document provides some fundamental values of management of justice. The values under this document are as follows:
1. No one should be treated with torture or cruel inhuman intentions or degrading treatment and severe punishment. 2. Every person to have the right to life, liberty and safety. 3. No one shall be subjected to uninformed arrest, imprisonment or exile. 4. Every person who is charged with a severe offence has the right to be assumed innocent until proved guilty until the final judgement according to law.
Prisoners are still human beings even when put in jails. The Supreme Court and lots of other courts of India have reiterated this position in several cases in order that prisoners don't become a victim themselves. And should be provided with a proper rehabilitative environment to help them improve and become better people. It is now upon the State and Central governments provide the prisoners with humane conditions for a living but also to educate them about the rights they have, so that it is not abused by the person with power inside the jail.
It can be said that at the places where the legislative and executive failed, the judiciary has done its role properly in preserving the rights of prisoners. It has acted because the savior of the convicts and upheld their fundamental rights time and time again. It has thoroughly exercised its powers through broad interpretation and has repeatedly devised new remedies and tools to guard the human’s right to life and private liberty.
However, a lot can still be done for improving the condition of prisoners in India. In this regard, the wide range of human rights is available to prisoners, vast advertisement of prisoner’s right in media and proper surveillance in prisons might be some of the keys for upholding the rights of prisoners and ensuring their safety in the prison.
RIGHTS OF PRISONERS- http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-75-rights-of-prisoners.html#:~:text=Indian%20constitution%20guarantees%20six%20freedoms,are%20enjoyed%20by%20the%20prisoners. ( last visited – 28-05-2021)
PRISONERS RIGHTS IN INDIA- https://lexforti.com/legal-news/rights-of-prisoners-in-india/ ( last visited – 28-05-2021)
ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN PROTECTING RIGHTS OF PRISONERS - http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1616/Role-of-Judiciary-in-Protecting-the-Rights-of-Prisoners.html (last visited -29-05-2021)
BY- SHIVANGI PRAKASH
AMITY LAW SCHOOL, AMITY UNIVERSITY, NOIDA, UTTAR PRADESH