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Violations of Human Rights of Prison Inmates

Who are prisoners?
According to section 1 of the Prison Security Act, 1992, the word ―prisoner‖ means any person for the time being in a prison as a result of any requirement imposed by a court or otherwise that he be detained in legal custody.[1]

In other words, we can say that, prisoner is one who held in confinement against his will. One who is deprived of his liberty, and kept in custody against his will. This liberty can be deprived by forceful restraint or confinement.

We can say that, the word ‘prisoner’ means any person who is kept in jail under custody because he or she committed any act which is prohibited by law of the land.
No one shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment.[2]
Prisoners are persons and have some rights and do not lose their basic constitutional rights.
In our world prisoners are still laboratories of torture, warehouses in which human commodities are sadistically kept and where spectrums of inmates range from driftwood juveniles to heroic dissenters.- Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer

Rights of prisoners
Prisoners have also some rights to some extent as a normal human being when they are behind the prison. In India there is no any codified rights of the prisoners. But our respected judiciary system has recognized a list of rights for the prisoners and every authorities have to follow these rights:
# Prisons are meant to be rehabilitation centers more than punishment canters, particularly when crimes are relatively minor.- Yahya Ashraf, researcher at Euro-Med Monitor.
# Fundamental violations of human rights always lead to people feeling less and less human.- Aung San Suu Kyi
# In the case of Sunil Batra v/s Delhi Administration[3], the court gave a very obvious answer to the question whether prisoners are persons and whether they are entitled to fundamental rights while in custody, although there may be a shrinkage in the fundamental rights.
# In the case of Hussainara Khatoon v/s Home Secretary, Bihar[4], it was said that- ―If free legal services are not provided the trail itself may be vitiated as contravening Art.21[5].
# Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in the case of State of M.P v/s Shyamsundar Trivedi[6]said that Convicts are not by mere reason of the conviction denuded of all the fundamental rights which they otherwise possess.
# In the case of State of A.P v/s Challa Ramkrishna Reddy[7]it was held that a prisoner is entitled to all his fundamental rights unless his liberty has been constitutionally curtailed.
Constitution of India does not expressly provide the provisions related to the prisoners‘ rights but in the case of T.V. Vatheeswaran v/s State of Tamil Nadu[8]it was held that the Articles 14, 19 and 21 are available to the prisoners as well as freemen.

Rights of the prisoners granted under constitution of India

Following are the rights of prisoners which are implicitly provided under the Article 21(1) & (2) of the Constitution of India:-
·Right of inmates of protective homes[9]
·Right to free legal aid[10]
·Right to speedy trial[11]
·Right against cruel and unusual punishment[12]
·Right to fair trial[13]
· Right against custodial violence and death in police lock-ups or encounters[14]
·Right to live with human dignity[15]

Apart from these rights of prisoners Constitution of India also provides following rights to the prisoners:-
·Right to meet friends and consult lawyer[16]
· Rights against solitary confinement, handcuffing & bar fetters and protection from torture[17]
·Right to reasonable wages in prison[18]
·Right to timely information of the ground of the arrest[19]
·Right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice[20]
·Right to speedy trial is a fundamental right of a prisoner[21]
·The right to meet friends, relatives and lawyers are provided under Article 14 & 21[22]
·Right to minimum freedom of movement, under which a prisoner is entitled to under Article 19, cannot be cut down by the application of handcuffs. Handcuffs must be the last refuge as there are other ways for ensuring security.[23]
·Right against self-incrimination.[24]
· Right against double jeopardy[25], i.e. the principle of nemo debet vis vexari.
·The state shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on the basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities[26]
·Right to publication.[27]
·Right to receive books and magazines inside the jail.[28]
·Right to higher education.[29]

Rights of the prisoners granted under code of criminal procedure[30]:-
·Arrested person to be informed of grounds of arrest and of right to bail.[31]
·Every police officer or other person arresting any person without warrant shall forthwith communicate to him full particulars of the offence for which he is arrested or the other grounds for such arrest.[32]
·Where a police officer arrests without warrant any person other than a person accused of a non-bailable offence, he shall inform the person arrested that he is entitled to be released on bail and that he may arrange for sureties on his behalf.[33]
·Right to examination of arrested person by medical officer.[34]
·It shall be the duty of the person having the custody of an accused to take reasonable care of the health and safety of the accused.[35]
·Notification of substance of warrant – The police officer or other person executing a warrant of arrest shall notify the substance thereof to the person to be arrested, and, if so required, shall show him the warrant.[36]
·Person arrested to be brought before Court without delay – The police officer or other person executing the warrant of arrest shall (subject to the provisions of section 71[37]as to security) without unnecessary delay bring the person arrested before the court before which he is required by law to produce such person.[38]

Rights granted to prisoners under the prisons act, 1894-
Following sections of The Prisons Act, 1894 deals with the rights of the prisoners:-
·Accommodation and sanitary conditions for prisoners[39]
·Provision for the shelter and safe custody of the excess number of prisoners who cannot be safely kept in any prison,[40]
·Provisions relating to the examination of prisoners by qualified Medical officer[41]
·Provisions relating to separation of prisoners, containing female and male prisoners, civil and criminal prisoners and convicted and under trial prisoners[42]
·Provisions relating to treatment of under trial, civil prisoners, parole and temporary release of prisoners.[43]

Violations of prisoner’s rights in India
A right delayed is a right denied – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every society has some rules for the protection of the members of the society, they have also punishments for the persons, who breaks the rules. Prisoners are those, who break the rule, but it doesn‘t mean that prisoners have no rights. The prisoners also have their right.

In the case of Rama Murthy v. State of Karnataka[44], the hon‘ble supreme court specified 9 problems of Indian prisons. The problems are as following:-
·80% prisoners are under trials
# Delay in trial.
# Even though bail is granted, prisoners are not released.
# Lack or insufficient provision of medical aid to prisoners
# Callous and insensitive attitude of jail authorities
# Punishment carried out by jail authorities not coherent with punishment given by court.
# Harsh mental and physical torture
# Lack of proper legal aid
# Corruption and other malpractices.

Immanuel Kant said:-
There is nothing more scared in the wide world than the rights of others. They are inviolable. Woe into him who trespasses or triumphs it underfoot. His right should be his security, it should be stronger than shield or fortress. We have a holy ruler and the most sacred of his gift to us is the rights of man.
# There is no excuse for human rights abuse, whether in the name of security or in the name of liberation. - Jrene Khan
# What‘s happened at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq is one of the grossest violations of human rights under the Geneva Conventions that we have record of. It is simply monstrous. - by Carlos Fuentes

In spite of these rules and laws, there is continuous violation of rights of India. The practice of torture in prison has been highly predominant in India since a long time. In the name of extracting confessions, investigating crimes they use physical force upon the prisoners. Torture is also inflicted on women in the form of custodial rape, molestation and other forms of sexual abuses.

In the case of Joginder Kumarv.State of UP and Ors[45]., the hon'ble supreme court of India said that, the quality of a nation‘s civilization can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of criminal law. The horizon of human rights is expanding. At the same the time, the crime rate is also increasing. The court has been receiving complaints about violation of human rights because of indiscriminate arrests. A realistic approach should be made in this direction. The law of arrest is one of balancing individual rights, liberties and privileges, on one hand and individual duties obligations and responsibilities on the other; of weighing and balancing the rights, liberties and privileges of the single individual and those of individuals collectively; of simply deciding what is wanted and where to put the weight and the emphasis; of deciding which comes first – the criminal or society, the law violator or the law abider.

Death in police custody is one of the results of the violations of rights of prisoners. There is a large numbers of cases related to death in police custody.

The cases are following:-
Year 1993-94
# Alleged custodial death of Shri Shanskhem Kharsaiot followed by death of two persons in police firing in Meghalaya.
# Alleged custodial death of Madan Lal in Delhi
# Alleged custodial death of Shri Chandrasekharan in Pondicherry

Year 1994-95
# Alleged death of Korra Satya Rao, a tribal, in Vishakapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, as a result of police mistreatment

Year 1995-96
# Custodial death of Abdul Gafar Khan in Goa
# Recovery of compensation amount from errant police personnel responsible for custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Rajasthan.

Year 1996-97
# Custodial death of Shri Bundoo in Uttar Pradesh
# Death in police custody of Shri Udayan in Kerela
# Complaint from Shri P.S. Bhatia regarding alleged death of Shri Mohd Mansoor in police custody at Baliya P.S., Bihar
vYear 1997-98
# Custodial death of Atal Bihari Mishra- Uttar Pradesh

Year 1998-99
# Death of Punjabhai Somabhai Thakor due to Police beating : Gujarat[46]

Year 1999-2000
# Death of an accused in Police custody due to beating[47]
# Fruit vendor beaten to death by Police for not paying ―Hafta‖: Delhi[48]
# Suicide in Police Lock-Up: Kolar, Karnataka[49]
# Negligence of Public Authorities : Death of witness in police station: Gujarat[50]

Year 2000-2001
# Death of Gothandam in Police Custody : Pondicherry[51]
# Illegal Detention, Torture and Death of Shah Mohammed in Police Custody and Negligence on the part of doctors for not conducting a through Post Martem: Madhya Pradesh[52]
# Torture in Police Custody Results in the Death of Kartik Mehto: Bihar[53]
# Negligence on the part of Police Leads to the killing of Mahendra Pal Singh: Uttar Pradesh[54]

Year 2001-05
# Custodial death of Mohammad Irshad Khan: Delhi[55]
# Custodial death of Ram Kishore- complaint by Uttar Pradesh Parjapati Samaj Vikas Parishad[56]
# Death of Shishu Rebe due to torture in police custody: Arunachal Pradesh[57]
# Death in custody of former Sarpanch of Gogon Village, Chuhur Singh due to negligence: Punjab[58]
# Death of Bujhai in police custody due to torture: Uttar Pradesh[59]
# Death of Radhey Shyam in police custody due to torture; Rajasthan[60]
# Death of Karan Singh in police custody due to violence: Madhya Pradesh[61]
# Death of Surendra in police: Kerala[62]
# Death of Zakir in Police Custody at Pushp Vihar Police Station, New Delhi[63]
# Death of Madan Bhilala in Police Custody at Balawar Police Station, Distt. Khargaon: Madhya Pradesh[64]
# Death of Chhigga in the police custody at P.S. Sirsi, District Guna: Madhya Pradesh[65]
# Death of Sher Mohammad in Police custody by torture: U.P.[66]
# Death of Sh. Kantosh Prahlad Jadhav, in police custody by torture: Latur, Maharashtra[67]
# Custodial death of Haji Mohd, Nabuji Tentwala in police custody in Ahmedabad[68]
And many more such violations of prisoner’s rights. And many more such deaths till now...

If a person commits any crime, it does not mean that by committing a crime, he or she ceases to be a human being and that he or she can be deprived of those aspects of life which constitute human dignity.

Disturbing conditions of the prison and violation of the basic human rights such as custodial deaths, physical violence/torture, police excess, degrading treatment, custodial rape, poor quality of food, lack of water supply, poor health system support, not producing the prisoners to the court, unjustified prolonged incarceration, forced labor and other problems observed by the apex court have led to judicial activism[69]. Overcrowded prisons, prolonged detention of under trial prisoners, unsatisfactory living condition and allegations of indifferent and even inhuman behavior by prison staff has repeatedly attracted the attention of critics over the years. Unfortunately, little has changed. There have been no worthwhile reforms affecting the basic issues of relevance to prison administration in India. – (Justice A N Mulla Committee, 1980-83)

It is important to stop these violations of rights of prisoners. After all they are also humans, they have also some emotions. Humans have no rights to violates others rights even if he or she is in a dominating position.

Stop violating rights of prisoners... they are human too…...

End-Notes
[1]The Prison Security Act, 1992, section 1(6).
[2]Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
[3] (1980) 3 SCC 488 W.P. (C) No. 406.
[4] AIR 1997 SC 1377.
[5] Right to life under Indian Constitution.
[6] (1994) 4 SCC 395.
[7](2000) 5 SCC 712: AIR 2000 SC 2083.
[8]AIR 1983 SC 361 : (1983) 2 SCC 68
[9]Upendra Baxiv.State of U.P., (1983) 2 SCC 308.
[10]M.H. Hoskotv.State of Maharashtra, (1978) 3 SCC 544.
[11]Hussainara Khatoonv.State of Bihar, (1980) 1 SCC 81.
[12]Jagmohan Singhv. State of U.P., AIR 1973 SC 947.
[13]Rattiramv.State of M.P., (2012) 4 SCC 516.
[14]D.K. Basuv.State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416.
[15]Jeeja Ghoshv.Union of India, (2016) 7 SCC 761.
[16]Sunil Batrav.Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC 1579.
[17]Prem Shankar Shuklav.Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC 1535.
[18]People’s Union for Democratic Rightsv. Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 1473.
[19]Tarpada Dev.State of West Bengal, AIR 1951 SC 174.
[20]Md. Ajamal Md. Amir Kasab @Abu Majahidv.State of Maharashtra, AIR 2012 SC 3565.
[21]Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
[22]Ibid.
[23]Article 19 of Indian Constitution.
[24]Article 20(3) of Indian Constitution.
[25]Article 20(2) of Indian Constitution.
[26] Article 39(A) of Indian Constitution
[27]State of Maharashtrav.Prabhakr Pandurang Sanzgur, AIR 1966 SC 424.
[28]George Fernandesv. State, (1964) 66 Bom LR 185.
[29]Mohammad Giasuddinv.State of AP, AIR 1977 SC 1926.
[30]Crpc, 1973.
[31]Sec. 50 of Crpc, 1973
[32] Sec. 50(1) of Crpc, 1973
[33] Sec. 50(2) of Crpc, 1973.
[34] Sec. 50(2) of Crpc, 1973.
[35]Sec. 55-A of Crpc, 1973 ( Inserted vide Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Act, 2008).
[36] Sec. 75 of Crpc, 1973
[37]Sec. 71 of Crpc, 1973:- Power to direct security to be taken- (1) Any court issuing a warrant for the arrest of any person may in its discretion direct by endorsement on the warrant that, if such person executes a bond with sufficient sureties for his attendance before the court at a specified time and thereafter until otherwise directed by the court the officer to whom the warrant is directed shal take such security and shall release such person from custody. (2) The endorsement shall State. (a) the number of sureties; (b) the amount in which they and the person for whose arrest the warrant is issued, are to be respectively bound;
[38]Sec.76 of Crpc, 1973.
[39] Section 4 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
[40] Section 7 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
[41] Section 24(2) of the Prisons Act, 1894.
[42]Section 27 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
[43]Sections 31 and 35 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
[44](1997) 2 SCC 642.
[45](1994) 4 SCC 260.
[46]Case No. 6123/95-96/NHRC
[47] Case No. 351/20/97-98/CD.
[48] Case No.951/96-97/NHRC
[49]Case No.12098/96-97/NHRC
[50] Case No.7820/96-97/NHRC.
[51] Case No. 75/32/97-98/CD.
[52] Case No. 3855/96-97/NHRC.
[53] Case No. 8903/95-96
[54] Case No.39/24/97-98/ACD.
[55]Case No. 2387/30/2000-2001-CD.
[56]Case No. 483-LD/93-94.
[57](Case No. 74/96-97/NHRC.
[58]Case No. 431/19/2000-2001.
[59]Case No. 4238/96-97/NHRC.
[60]Case No. 205/20/1999-2000-CD.
[61]Case No. 1935/12/2000-2001-CD.
[62]Case No. 13353/96-97/NHRC
[63]Case No.525/30/2001-2002-CD
[64]Case No. 71/12/2001-2002-CD.
[65]Case No. 1800/12/2000-2001-CD.
[66]Case No. 8924/95-96/NHRC.
[67]Case No. 5418/95-96/NHRC
[68]Case No. 7586/95-96/NHRC.
[69]NHRC,1993

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