This Article is written by Sukanya Bhat (a second-year BALLB student at Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad)
Table of Contents
Any person who is kept under custody in prison or jail, because he/she committed an act prohibited by law of the land is called a prisoner. Prisoners rights are the rights of the prisoners behind the bars. Prisoners also have some basic legal rights which cannot be taken away. The term prisoner has been defined in Section 1of the Prisoners Security Act, 1992. The basic rights include the following:
1) Food and water
2) right to have counsel for himself
3)Protection from cruelty
4) Protection from violence and racial harassment.
The conviction of a human does not
Rights of Prisoners in Indian Law
The rights available are available in part III of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution asserts that they are treated alike and also gives the concept of reasonable classification. There are fundamental rights guaranteed to the prisoners too. Such as Articles 14,19 and 21. However, fundamental rights cannot be fully imposed to the advantage of the prisoners. The soul of Article 21 is formed by the Right to Fair Procedure to the prisoners. The essence of Article 19(5) is imposing reasonableness in restriction. Moreover, weeping discretion degenerating into arbitrary discrimination is anathema for Article 14. There are various other rights under Article 20(1), (2), Article 21 and Article 22(4-7)
Enactments and Rules
Following are some important regulations and enactments:
- The Prisoners Act,1894- One of the first regulations with regards to prison was the Prisoners Act,1894. It gave the following provisions: Sanitary and accommodation for the prisoners, provisions with regards to physical and mental well being of the prisoners, provisions for examination of prisoners by a medical officer, separation of prisoners based on gender and whether they are civil or criminal and provisional treatment.
- The Prisoners Act,1990- It stated that if there is any prisoner who is of unsound mind, the Government has to remove the prisoner and send him to a Lunatic asylum where he shall be given proper treatment.
- The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950- The reason behind the enactment was to transfer the prisoner from one state to another for therapy or vocal training to less congested jails,
- The Prisoners (Attendance in Courts) ACT, 1955: The act comprises provisions that authorize the removal of prisoners to a civil or criminal court for giving evidence or to answering to the burden of an offence.
Rights of Prisoners Under International Law
The International Human Rights Law protects people from racial discrimination and other forms of torture. The rights of specific groups such as women, children and people with disabilities, indigenous people and migrant workers are also recognized.
- The UN Charter: On26th June 1945 the UN Charter was signed in San Francisco. Basic Principles For The Treatment of Prisonerswas accepted and decreed by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990. Some of the principles were as follows: No discrimination of any form, respect to the cultural group and beliefs of the prisoners, the prisoners shall retain the human rights and abolition of solitary confinement, access to health care and undertaking of remunerated employment.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A movement was started in the year 1948 in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was then adopted in the General Assembly. The document was called as Human rights Declaration which contained the following provisions: None should be subjected to torture, everyone has the right to life and liberty, no one should be subjected to arbitrary arrest and right to be innocent until proven guilty.
- The International Covenants On Civil And Political Rights, 1966: The ICCPR remains the core treaty on the protection of the rights of the prisoners, listed below are some of the provisions:
Everyone has the right to liberty, no one shall be subjected to inhuman treatment and no one shall be imprisoned merely on the grounds of inability.
- UN Core Conventions And Specific Instruments: Amnesty International in 1955 formulated certain standard rules for the treatment of prisoners: No discrimination, Men and Women to be detained in a separate institution, the distinction between prisoners based on age and whether they are civil or criminal, availability of health officers, prevention from cruel treatment and enact any form of torture under criminal law.
Important Case Laws
- D.B.M.Patnaik v. State of Andhra Pradesh– In this case, it was held that mere detention does not deprive the convicts of the fundamental rights protected in the Constitution.
- In the state of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang Sanzgir in this case the court held that the mere fact that a person is detained cannot deprive him of his fundamental rights
- Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration in this case it was held that imposition of solitary confinement was only to be made in special cases where the prisoner was of such violent or dangerous nature that his isolation becomes an utmost necessity.
- In the case of Manna v. People of Illinois, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that life is more than just animal existence. The same cannot be said for the souls behind the bar. Art. 21 guarantees rights to everyone, and no one, not even the state, can refuse them. Prisoners enjoy all of the rights that a free man does, with some exceptions. They do not lose their fundamental rights just because they are in prison.
When people are imprisoned, they do not lose their humanity. The Supreme Court of India, as well as many other Indian courts, have reaffirmed this position in several cases to ensure that prisoners do not become victims. And they’re put in a good rehabilitation setting to help them grow and become better people. The federal and state governments must not only provide acceptable living circumstances for prisoners but also teach them about their rights so that they are not violated by the power inside the prison. When the legislative and executive branches of government make mistakes, the country’s court can be claimed to have played a critical role in protecting the rights of inmates. It has repeatedly acted as a saviour for prisoners, upholding their fundamental rights. It has vigorously exercised its powers through judicial activism, and it has repeatedly invented new remedies and measures to preserve people’s rights to life and liberty. However, there is still more to be done. In this sense, wide distribution of human rights information to inmates, extensive media coverage of prisoners, and round-the-clock surveillance in prisons could be some of the keys to maintaining prisoners’ rights.
Jayaram Swathy, Rights of Prisoners, Legal Services India https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-75-rights-of-prisoners.html Last Visited( 16th October, 2021 8:00 pm)
Art 19 Constitution of India
Art 21 Constitution of India
Art 19 cl 5 Constitution of India
Supra Note 3
United Nations Website https://www.un.org.
Supra Note 1
D.B.M.Patnaik v. State of Andhra PradeshAIR 1974 (SC 2092)
State of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang SanzgirAppeal (crl.) 107 of 1965
Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration AIR 1978 (SC 1675)
Manna v. People of Illinois94 U.S. 113 (1876)