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Prisoners: Human Behind The Bars

Every Saint Has A Past; Every Sinner Has A Future: Oscar Wilde

Meaning of the term prisoner
As we all know in India we follow the concept of 'Preventive theory of punishment' and 'the Reformative theory of punishment'. According to the preventive theory, it is found that 'the idea of prevention of repetition of crime by disabling the offender through measures such as imprisonment, forfeiture, death punishment and suspension of license'.1 The theory of utilitarian2 also supports the concept of punishment. Due to this, the word 'Prisoner' came into existence.

A prisoner is a person who is deprived of liberty against his or her will.3 So according to this definition the prisoner is a person who is confined by the legal authorities in a prison (a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial, there are various synonyms been used for prison such as – jail, penal institution, place of confinement, guardhouse, lockup, etc.). The term prisoner doesn't apply to defendants who are pre-trial.4

Provisions as per the Prisons Act, 1984
  1. Prison means a jail or place used permanently or temporarily under the general or special orders of a state government for the detention of prisoners, and includes all lands and buildings appurtenant thereto, but does not include:
    1. Any place especially appointed by the state government under section 541 of CrPC; 5
    2. Any place which has been declared by the state government by general or special order, to be a subsidiary jail. 6
       
  2. Criminal prisoner means any prisoner duly committed to custody under the writ, warrant or order of any Court or authority exercising criminal jurisdiction, or by order of a Court-martial 7
     
  3. Convicted criminal prisoner' means any criminal prisoner under sentence of a Court or Court-martial, and includes a person detained in prison under the provisions of Chapter VIII of the 8 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882 (10 of 1882) or under the9 Prisoners Act, 1871 (5 of 1871).10
     
  4. Civil prisoner means any prisoner who is not a criminal prisoner.11
Rights of Prisoners
In India, there are large amounts of rights given to the prisoners because they are considered as normal human beings but behind the prison. These rights are provided under- The constitution of India12, The Prisons Act 13etc. In the case of State Of A.P. V. Challa Ramkrishana Reddy,14 it was held that a prisoner is entitled to all fundamental rights unless his liberty has been constitutionally curtailed. The Supreme Court has emphasized that a prisoner, whether a convict or is under trial, does not cease to be a human being.

Even if a person is convicted and deprived of his liberty in accordance with the procedure established by law, a prisoner still retains the residue of constitutional rights.15

Rights Under Constitution Of India

Article 14, 19, 20, 21 And 22

  • Article 19 provide 6 freedom rights to each and every citizen of the country, the prisoner cannot avail all such freedom rights but can excess to 'freedom of speech and expression'16 and 'freedom to become a member of an association'.17
  • Article 14 of the Constitution of India says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India. Thus Article 14 contemplated that like should be treated alike, and also provided the concept of reasonable classification. This article is a very useful guide and basis for the prison authorities to determine various categories of prisoners and their classifications with the object of reformation.18
  • Article 20 of The Indian Constitution provides:
     
      1. Double jeopardy means no person can be trialed twice for the same offence.
      2. The Rule against self-incrimination that means one cannot be forced to be a witness against himself.
    There are certain examples of Rights been given by the constitution to the prisoners such as:
    1. Right of inmates of protective homes;19
    2. Right to free legal aid;
    3. Right to speedy trial;
    4. Right against cruel and unusual punishment;
    5. Right to fair trial;
    6. Right against custodial violence and death in police lock-ups or encounters;20
    7. Right to live with human dignity.
  • Article 21 says that no person shall be deprived of his personal life or liberty except according to the established by law. The article clearly states that it is available not only for free people but also to those people who are behind the jail (prison).

The Prison Act 1984:

This was the first enactment made by the legislature to provide some individual rights to the prisoners:
  1. Accommodation and sanitary facilities for prisoners;
  2. Provisions relating to the mental and physical state of prisoners;
  3. Medical examination of the prisoners by the qualified officer;
  4. Separate prison for Males, females, civil, criminal, convicted and under trial persons;
  5. Provisions for treatment of undertrials, civil prisoners, parole, and temporary release of prisoners.

The Prisoners (Attendance In Courts) Act 1955:

The Act contains certain provisions relating to and authorizing the removal of prisoners to a civil or criminal court for giving evidence or for answering to the charge of an offense under which the person is been arrested.21

International Human Rights Law (Relating To Prisoners):

The law was adopted by the UN Charter on 24 October 1945 in San Francisco. Basic principles were adopted related to the treatment of prisoners inside the prison.
  1. Prisoners shall be treated with inherent dignity and valued as human being;
  2. No discrimination should be done on any basis;
  3. Provisions of UDHR, ICESCR, ICCPR, and the optional protocol should be fulfilled;
  4. Right to take part in cultural activities and education (aimed to the full development of human being);
  5. Access to health services.

Suggestions:
  1. The jail authorities must try to create a friendly environment as well as inter-communication among the prisoners to fulfill their social needs;
  2. They must conduct counseling session for prisoners (Individual sessions as well as collective sessions to change their state of mind);
  3. The jail authorities must make efforts to provide religious teachings to the prisoners to abolish the negative minds and to generate positive vibes among them (that what actually these holly books provide);
  4. Government must conduct cultural programs inside the jail such as dramas, cultural plays, dance shows, some kind of competitions, etc.
     
Conclusion
So according to me the definition of the word prisoner basically means a human being behind the bars (prisoners), so they are also entitled to get fundamental rights within the sphere of the law. Though Indian constitution doesn't expressly or directly provide any rights for the prisoners but Article 14, 19, 20, 21, and 22 of the constitution implicitly guaranteed the prisoners' rights.

The legislature had also enacted various laws to provide certain essential rights to the prisoners (human behind the bar) such as the Prisons Act, 1894 contains the provisions for the welfare and protection of prisoners as well as various government schemes are been launched such as the government of India had appointed a National Expert Committee on Women prisoners (1968-87) under chairmanship of Justice Krishna lyer to examine the condition of women prisoners, National Conference on human rights of prisoners was conducted on 14 November 1955 etc many more efforts are been taken by the government to provide maximum rights to the prisoner to reform them.

The Supreme Court of India in various cases while pronouncing the judgment has stated that or held that the prisoner is a human being, a natural person, and also a legal person. If a person is convicted for some offence, he (prisoner) does not cease to be a human being, a natural person or legal person. A conviction for a crime does not reduce the person into a non-person, whose rights are subject to the whim of the prison administration and therefore, the imposition of any major punishment within the prison system is conditional upon the absence of procedural safeguards.

End-Notes:
  1. https://definations.uslegal.com/p/preventive-theory/
  2. Given by Bentham (a roman jurist of analytical school)
  3. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/prisoner
  4. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/prisoner
  5. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882 (10 of 1882)
  6. Section 3(1) of The Prison Act 1984
  7. Section 3(2) of The Prison Act 1984
  8. The relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898) to be referred to
  9. See now the Prisoners Act, 1900 (3 of 1900)
  10. Section 3(3) of the prison act 1984
  11. ibid
  12. 1950
  13. 1984
  14. (2000) 5 SCC 712; AIR 2000 SC 2083
  15. Jain M.P., “Indian Constitutional Law”, 5th Edition, Vol. 1, Wadhwa and Company, Nagpur, 2003, p.1295.
  16. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India
  17. Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India.
  18. Chowdhury Roy Nitai, 'Indian Prison Laws and Correction of Prisoners', Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi, 2002, p.75.
  19. Upendra Baxi v. State of U.P., (1983) 2 SCC 308.
  20. D.K. Basu v. State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416.
  21. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-75-of-prisoners.html

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