News-Bulletin

Prisons and Prisoners: Violation of Article 21 or longer than sentence stays justified? Observation of Uttarakhand High Court

Recently, Uttarakhand High Court spoke about the humaneness even in criminals. It said that just because a person, due to various reasons, became a criminal, the society does not get absolved of its duty of assimilating him into the society. The society has the duty of forever trying to connect him to the mainstream in order to reform him. The issue was presented during the hearing of a petition alleging that the state has failed to implement any policy or norms regarding the early discharge of convicted convicts after they have served over fourteen years of their sentence. The court noted; “In the entire State of Uttarakhand, there is only one Central Jail. All the other jails are either District Jails or Sub-Jails. According to the chart given in the affidavit, the total capacity in all the jails for keeping inmates is 3540. However, as of April 07, there are 6499 inmates, including 192 female inmates.” The court decided, “Obviously, the jails in the State are overcrowded. In order to reduce the over-crowding, jail inmates are periodically transferred from one jail to the other. For, according to the affidavit, those who have been sentenced with life imprisonment, and are housed at District Jails Tehri, Chamoli and Pauri, are generally transferred to District Jails at Haridwar and Dehradun.” The High Court quoted, “Apex Court has specifically opined that generally the prisoners should not be transferred far away from their family. For, it is imperative that the familial relationship should continue between the prisoner and his family despite the fact that the prisoner is incarcerated.”

“The family relationship is essential not only for the emotional support of the prisoner, but also as a means to reform the prisoner, and to motivate him or her to reform him or herself to the extent that he or she can be brought back into the society as a law abiding citizen.”

Also observed by the Supreme Court in numerous cases is the Fundamental Rights Violation aspect. It has observed that to keep a prisoner separated from his family after completion of sentence is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

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