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Are Jails Punitive Or Reformative? Analysing The Fate Of Prisoners

According to Lombroso's theory of crime, A man is not born a criminal or an offender, but is made like that. Human civilisation then and now has always been backed by dearth of access to justice for the weak. In the age where the disparity between poor and rich exists, each one doesn't hold that power monetarily to get a learned lawyer to defend oneself even where elementary facilities of life is hard to maintain.

According to the principles of natural justice every person should be dealt with equity, justice and good conscience. Recently Niranaram Chetanram Chaudhary [1]was set free after an SC order affirmed that he was a juvenile in September 1994, was incarcerated 28 years since he murdered seven people.

And in the most profound case, father stan swamy spent 270 days in prison before dying as a jailbird, Delhi riots-accused and earlier Jawaharlal Nehru University scholar Umar Khalid had been for more than 1000 days behind bars. [2]And just like him there are several prisoners who are undertrials, and not convicted and yet incarcerated for decades. Well, this is just a preview inside the prison cells and conditioning offered to the undertrials and guilty, there is much more not known to the human existence.

Provisions And Statutes Under Law
The accused is afforded a great deal of protection under criminal law, which is specifically stated in the Indian Constitution. The prosecution must show the defendant's guilt before the accused is considered guilty. The "presumption of innocence"[3] is one of the fundamental legal ideas that underpin the accused person's protection under the law.

According to the concept, the defendant individual always has the advantage of the doubt and is assumed guiltless until the trial can establish their fault beyond a rational doubt. The accused person's lawful protection is a constitutional right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and certain criminal law regulations[4]. These rights might be exercised before the trial, as provided under the CrPC, i.e., the right to seizure, arrest, etc[5].

The accused is entitled to protection against any arbitrary and unlawful arrest by a lawful enforcement agency[6]. Criminal law gives police authorities broad authority to detain and question a suspect charged with a Cognizable Offence without bringing him before a law officer. To ensure that police have not abused their authority for personal gain, the Court should exercise caution throughout an accused person's trial. He shouldn't be denied any legal rights just because he broke the law or committed an offense. As a result, criminal jurisprudence offers the accused legal protection during the inquiry and courtroom trial.

The rights of the defendant during a criminal trial are clearly outlined under Indian law. There are several criminal law provisions as well as particular laws that address the subject of an accused person's rights. Several legal precedents provide the accused during a criminal trial effective redress. To prevent the innocent person from facing punishment from the court of law, the legislation includes measures that are applicable throughout a criminal trial.

To protect and uphold the principles of a fair trial and natural justice, the Indian courts have also established several rules and safeguards that must be followed by law administration agencies both at the time of custody and throughout a criminal trial. These liberties are protected the accused is given certain rights to lessen his emotional and bodily pain throughout the legal process. India is one of a country that adopted the idea of a rapid trial to safeguard the rights of both the defendants and the persecutor.

The state and its agents cannot under any circumstances abandon the decency of state behaviour in the fight against crime and delinquency and turn to extra-legal techniques to detain crimes and even offenders. When a state's own action is wrong, unfair, and unlawful, it should not demand good behaviour from others. Thus, even the rights of the accused are inviolable in a democratic society; even if he is charged with a crime, he retains his human dignity.

Constitutional Provisions
Under Article 20(2)[7] Self-incrimination and forced testimonials are prohibited under the Indian Constitution. It declares that no one who has been apprehended with a crime will be forced to affirm against themselves. The common law of American and English jurisprudence that no one should be compelled to submit a testament that may subject him to criminal suit is thus embodied in Article 20(3)[8]. The defendant has the right to make any voluntary declaration or admission without being forced to do so during the trial or while they are in detention.

Further, article 39-A[9] is there providing for the right to free lawful representation for the accused owing to poor and other destitute circumstances if he lacks the pecuniary resources to hire or retain a defence attorney before a court of law. Article 21 of our Constitution, which is made explicit under it, imposes a responsibility on the state government to offer the accused free legal representation.

The phrase "Nemo Bis Punitur Por Eodem Delicto"[10] refers to the idea that none should never face punishment double for identical transgression or mistake. According to the double jeopardy theory, a person who has already been tried for a crime cannot be tried again in a court of law for the same claim or offence.

This rule states that if a person has already been found guilty or cleared of a crime by a court of law with geographical jurisdiction, any additional conviction or exoneration for the same crime would be deemed a violation of Article 20 clause (2) of the Constitution and Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[11]

According to Article 10 of the UDHR[12], everyone has a completely equal right to a just and public hearing before a tribunal that is autonomous and unbiased, which will determine his legal civil rights and responsibilities as well as any criminal accusations that may be brought against him. All people should be treated similarly before the court and trials, according to Article 14(1)[13] of the international contracts on public and political rights.

Recent Developments And Landmark Cases
As per the Prison Statistics India 2021[14],. More than 1 lakh prisoners provided free of cost legal aid. And approx. 1918 convicted prisoners were rehabilitated and transformed in 2021. Nevertheless, the worth and amount of the aid provided remains ambiguous. With each passing year the prison inmates multiplied consequently. From 4,81,387, prisoners it skyrocketed to 5,54,034 in 2021.[15]

Henceforth, there are various organizations, committees, and programs launched for the accused as well as offenders like; Justice PN Bhagwati committee[16], Justice Krishna Iyer committee, and others to name a few. Also, District Legal Services Authority (DLSA)[17],the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA)[18], and The State Legal Services Authority (SALSA)[19],

The Legal Service Authority Act of 1987[20] was passed by the federal administration to offer legal aid. A legal framework was also created by this law to formalize legal aid. The 1994 Amendment Act stipulated that the Act will go into force on November 9, 1995. The National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) was founded on December 5th, 1995. its main goal was to create cost- and efficiency-conscious legal service programs.

Judicial Interpretation
In, Mohd. Hussain v. The State (Govt. of NCT) Delhi[21], in which the legal help counsel was unsuccessful to show up for much of the trial and an additional attorney was only appointed towards the close of the litigation, brought up the denial of the right to legal help as well. The tribunal determined that the representation given in the case violated the prisoner's right to a just hearing since it amounted to a rejection of the counsel's operative and significant help.

In Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain[22], the court said, "Rule of Law is a part of basic structure doctrine of the constitution of India when there is a defilement to the fundamental right or civil liberties, only then there is a remedy to go to the Courts.

In Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra case[23], a PIL was filed in response to the mistreatment of women inmates in Mumbai's jails. The court issued directives highlighting the requirement to offer lawful assistance to every prisoner housed in Maharashtra. The court upheld the constitutional requirement that destitute defendants suffering the loss of life or liberty get legal representation. To ensure that they had access to legal aid and to make it simpler for advocates selected by these Legal Aid Teams to work with detainees who needed legal support, the court ordered the Maharashtra detention centre to provide a record of every detainee with an ongoing trial to the district's Legal Aid Committee.

The Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 provides a framework for dealing with the mental health of prisoners. However, the gap between the communication of the commandment and reality needs to be linked. According to NCRB data, there has been a marked surge of 22% of jail prisoners suffering from mental disease.[24]

In the case of X v State of Maharashtra[25], a division bench of the apex Court held that the existence of post-conviction mental illness cannot be disregarded by the government. factors, including overcrowding, a lack of privacy, and loneliness, have been acknowledged by both the International Red Cross and the WHO as major factors for the spontaneous growth of psychological ailments.[26]

The very basic amenities like- cleanliness and hygiene, telephones, mattress, fans, eatable food, medical care, even basic lamps are not there. It consistently pushes the jail inmates in to developing serious mental and physical issues- torture, alienation, violence, struggle on daily basis to even committing suicide. Then and now many jurisprudences laid emphasis, from retributive to reformative justice. And most importantly offering a correctional treatment, to rehabilitate the offenders.

They all need is counselling and ray of hope towards the better life ahead. [27] "�no accused person is incapable of being reformed and therefore, all measures should be applied to give them an opportunity of reformation in order to bring them in the social stream,"[28] the Allahabad High Court held in the case of Babu v. State of U.P.[29]

thus, the criminal justice jurisprudence adopted in the country is not retributive but reformative and corrective, as correctly stressed by the honourable judicial fraternity.[30] Hence its high time to reconsider the execution of capital punishment and have another discourse in place of it.

All these provisions, statues, remedies will be of no use if laymen or common people know it. We must sensitize them about their rights as well as duties so that they don't fall unto the long trap of ignorance and misery. Hence knowledge and awareness is the key. Family upbringing, cultural, socio-economic factors, education are all necessary factors contributing to the mental � physical wellbeing of an individual.

the question with the Indian Criminal Justice system is not the scarcity of rules but the lack of organization to implement these laws. Totalling up, the Indian Justice System has remained somewhat stationary, and there is a need for a more vigorous structure that not only shields the sufferers of the crime but also the wrongdoers.

The best and fast way is Spiritual teachings that focus on altruistic, peaceful, faithful, righteous, blissful and eternal happiness. If the principles of dhamma, nirvana, Geeta teachings, scriptures, prayers and meditation are adopted and implemented by the prisoners, these values could help reform their characters surely.

All the stakeholders of the criminal justice system- the police department, the courts, the prosecution, the lawyers, and remaining fraternity must adopt a rigorous and well-coordinated tactic to upgrade the predicament of the 'forgotten souls' i.e., under-trial prisoners, accused who deteriorate in reformatories unreasonably.[31]

  1. 2023 SCC OnLine SC 340
  2. accessed 01 August 2023
  3. Article 14 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  4. Article 22 � right to freedom and personal liberty of the Indian constitution
  5. Section 50 of CrPC
  6. Article 21 to 22 of the Indian constitution
  7. Article 20(2) of the Indian constitution
  8. Article 20(3) of the Indian constitution
  9. Article 39-A of the Indian constitution
  10. "Nemo bis punitur por eodem delicto." A Law Dictionary, legal maxim in United States.
  11. Section 300 of CrPC
  12. Article 10 of Universal declaration of human rights
  13. Article 14(1) of the international contracts on public and political rights.
  14. National Crime Records Bureau (n 6)
  15. National Crime Records Bureau, Prison Statistics in India-2021
  16. Committee of justice PN Bhagwati on legal aid, 1971
  17. DLSA, Indian gov.
  18. NLSA, Indian gov
  19. SALSA, Indian gov.
  20. Legal service authority act,1987
  21. AIR 2012 SC 3860: (2012) 9 SCC 408
  22. AIR 1975 SC 2299
  23. 1983 SC 378
  24. Ambika Pandit, '22% rise in number of mentally ill jail inmates: NRCB' Times of India
  25. X v State of Maharashtra (2019) 7 SCC 1
  26. accessed 01 August 2023
  27. 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 498
  28. 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 365
  29. ibid
  30. ibid
  31. Dr. N. Bhagya Lakshmi (n 29)

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