Libertatem Magazine

Directions issued to improve the current state of prisons in India [Re – Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons, 2016

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The Indian reality of prisons is a picture of jails overflowing with undertrial prisoners, most of whom are from poor and marginalised communities. Thousands of them continue to languish in prisons despite landmark judgments by the Supreme Court and various high courts. Efforts to decongest Indian prisons and reduce the undertrial population have been ongoing for more than two decades. Under such circumstances the Supreme Court considered the dire need for prison reform and said that the prisoners like other human beings deserve to be treated with dignity. The Court issued direction such as -The Under Trial Review Committee, which has been set up in various States, should meet quarterly and the first meeting should be held before 31st March, 2016, aspects pertaining to effective implementation of Section 436 of the Cr.P.C. and Section 436A of the Cr.P.C. and those who cannot furnish bail bonds due to their poverty are not subjected to incarceration only for that reason should be considered, adequate number of competent lawyers should be empanelled to assist undertrial prisoners and convicts, particularly the poor and indigent, issue of the release of undertrial prisoners in compoundable offences, should be looked into, the effort being to effectively explore the possibility of compounding offences rather than requiring a trial to take place, proper and effective utilization of available funds so that the living conditions of the prisoners is commensurate with human dignity, ministry of Home Affairs will ensure that the Management Information System is in place at the earliest in all the Central and District Jails as well as jails for women so that there is better and effective management of the prison and prisoners, annual review of the implementation of the Model Prison Manual 2016 should be conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Court also ensured that such manual similar to the Model Prison Manual is prepared in respect of juveniles who are in custody either in Observation Homes or Special Homes or Places of Safety in terms of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

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