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.
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
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.
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, 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, it was
said that- ―If free legal services are not provided the trail itself may be
vitiated as contravening Art.21.
# Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer in the case of State of M.P v/s Shyamsundar
Trivedisaid 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 Reddyit 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 Naduit 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
·Right to free legal aid
·Right to speedy trial
·Right against cruel and unusual punishment
·Right to fair trial
· Right against custodial violence and death in police lock-ups or
·Right to live with human dignity
Apart from these rights of prisoners Constitution of India also provides
following rights to the prisoners:-
·Right to meet friends and consult lawyer
· Rights against solitary confinement, handcuffing & bar fetters and
protection from torture
·Right to reasonable wages in prison
·Right to timely information of the ground of the arrest
·Right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his
·Right to speedy trial is a fundamental right of a prisoner
·The right to meet friends, relatives and lawyers are provided under
Article 14 & 21
·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
·Right against self-incrimination.
· Right against double jeopardy, i.e. the principle of nemo debet vis
·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
·Right to publication.
·Right to receive books and magazines inside the jail.
·Right to higher education.
Rights of the prisoners granted under code of criminal procedure:-
·Arrested person to be informed of grounds of arrest and of right to
·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.
·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.
·Right to examination of arrested person by medical officer.
·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.
·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.
·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 71as to security) without unnecessary delay bring the
person arrested before the court before which he is required by law to produce
Rights granted to prisoners under the prisons act, 1894-
Following sections of The Prisons Act, 1894 deals with the rights of the
·Accommodation and sanitary conditions for prisoners
·Provision for the shelter and safe custody of the excess number of
prisoners who cannot be safely kept in any prison,
·Provisions relating to the examination of prisoners by qualified
·Provisions relating to separation of prisoners, containing female and
male prisoners, civil and criminal prisoners and convicted and under trial
·Provisions relating to treatment of under trial, civil prisoners,
parole and temporary release of prisoners.
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
, the hon‘ble
supreme court specified 9 problems of Indian prisons. The problems are as
·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
., 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
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
The cases are following:-
# 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
# Alleged death of Korra Satya Rao, a tribal, in Vishakapatnam District, Andhra
Pradesh, as a result of police mistreatment
# 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.
# 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
# Custodial death of Atal Bihari Mishra- Uttar Pradesh
# Death of Punjabhai Somabhai Thakor due to Police beating : Gujarat
# Death of an accused in Police custody due to beating
# Fruit vendor beaten to death by Police for not paying ―Hafta‖: Delhi
# Suicide in Police Lock-Up: Kolar, Karnataka
# Negligence of Public Authorities : Death of witness in police station:
# Death of Gothandam in Police Custody : Pondicherry
# 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:
# Torture in Police Custody Results in the Death of Kartik Mehto: Bihar
# Negligence on the part of Police Leads to the killing of Mahendra Pal Singh:
# Custodial death of Mohammad Irshad Khan: Delhi
# Custodial death of Ram Kishore- complaint by Uttar Pradesh Parjapati Samaj
# Death of Shishu Rebe due to torture in police custody: Arunachal Pradesh
# Death in custody of former Sarpanch of Gogon Village, Chuhur Singh due to
# Death of Bujhai in police custody due to torture: Uttar Pradesh
# Death of Radhey Shyam in police custody due to torture; Rajasthan
# Death of Karan Singh in police custody due to violence: Madhya Pradesh
# Death of Surendra in police: Kerala
# Death of Zakir in Police Custody at Pushp Vihar Police Station, New Delhi
# Death of Madan Bhilala in Police Custody at Balawar Police Station, Distt.
Khargaon: Madhya Pradesh
# Death of Chhigga in the police custody at P.S. Sirsi, District Guna: Madhya
# Death of Sher Mohammad in Police custody by torture: U.P.
# Death of Sh. Kantosh Prahlad Jadhav, in police custody by torture: Latur,
# Custodial death of Haji Mohd, Nabuji Tentwala in police custody in
And many more such violations of prisoner’s rights. And many more such deaths
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. 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…...
The Prison Security Act, 1992, section 1(6).
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
 (1980) 3 SCC 488 W.P. (C) No. 406.
 AIR 1997 SC 1377.
 Right to life under Indian Constitution.
 (1994) 4 SCC 395.
(2000) 5 SCC 712: AIR 2000 SC 2083.
AIR 1983 SC 361 : (1983) 2 SCC 68
Upendra Baxiv.State of U.P., (1983) 2 SCC 308.
M.H. Hoskotv.State of Maharashtra, (1978) 3 SCC 544.
Hussainara Khatoonv.State of Bihar, (1980) 1 SCC 81.
Jagmohan Singhv. State of U.P., AIR 1973 SC 947.
Rattiramv.State of M.P., (2012) 4 SCC 516.
D.K. Basuv.State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416.
Jeeja Ghoshv.Union of India, (2016) 7 SCC 761.
Sunil Batrav.Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC 1579.
Prem Shankar Shuklav.Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC 1535.
People’s Union for Democratic Rightsv. Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 1473.
Tarpada Dev.State of West Bengal, AIR 1951 SC 174.
Md. Ajamal Md. Amir Kasab @Abu Majahidv.State of Maharashtra, AIR 2012
Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
Article 19 of Indian Constitution.
Article 20(3) of Indian Constitution.
Article 20(2) of Indian Constitution.
 Article 39(A) of Indian Constitution
State of Maharashtrav.Prabhakr Pandurang Sanzgur, AIR 1966 SC 424.
George Fernandesv. State, (1964) 66 Bom LR 185.
Mohammad Giasuddinv.State of AP, AIR 1977 SC 1926.
Sec. 50 of Crpc, 1973
 Sec. 50(1) of Crpc, 1973
 Sec. 50(2) of Crpc, 1973.
 Sec. 50(2) of Crpc, 1973.
Sec. 55-A of Crpc, 1973 ( Inserted vide Code of Criminal Procedure
Amendment Act, 2008).
 Sec. 75 of Crpc, 1973
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
Sec.76 of Crpc, 1973.
 Section 4 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
 Section 7 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
 Section 24(2) of the Prisons Act, 1894.
Section 27 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
Sections 31 and 35 of the Prisons Act, 1894.
(1997) 2 SCC 642.
(1994) 4 SCC 260.
Case No. 6123/95-96/NHRC
 Case No. 351/20/97-98/CD.
 Case No.951/96-97/NHRC
 Case No.7820/96-97/NHRC.
 Case No. 75/32/97-98/CD.
 Case No. 3855/96-97/NHRC.
 Case No. 8903/95-96
 Case No.39/24/97-98/ACD.
Case No. 2387/30/2000-2001-CD.
Case No. 483-LD/93-94.
(Case No. 74/96-97/NHRC.
Case No. 431/19/2000-2001.
Case No. 4238/96-97/NHRC.
Case No. 205/20/1999-2000-CD.
Case No. 1935/12/2000-2001-CD.
Case No. 13353/96-97/NHRC
Case No. 71/12/2001-2002-CD.
Case No. 1800/12/2000-2001-CD.
Case No. 8924/95-96/NHRC.
Case No. 5418/95-96/NHRC
Case No. 7586/95-96/NHRC.