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Jail Inmates also entitled to Right to Life

Jail Inmates also entitled to Right to Life

Right to life is guaranteed to all including the Jail inmates.

As remarkably stated in a white paper published by the British Government titled “People in Prison” that if a society wants to judge its quality of belief in the worth of individual beings, it should see its prison and probation services and the resources made available to them.

In a democratic country like India where rights of its citizen is one of the most important part of the system, also thrives to ensure that each and every individual is guaranteed his fundamental right to life. In a recent judgment the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that even the prisoners in the jail have right to life as guaranteed by Art. 21 of the Constitution and therefore confining them to a cell for 22 hours a day will amount to Quasi-solitary confinement and is violative of Art. 21.

Facts of the case

The petitioner who was undertrial approached the court alleging that he was being kept and confined to an isolated cell with cemented floor and no bed or any other necessary amenity required for living like bedding, adequate food and water, adequate clothing, newspapers, magazines etc. and further was confined to the cell for 22 hours a day and was allowed to be let out only for an hour in the afternoon and evening respectively.

Whereas, on the other hand the respondent State contended that the petitioner is a habitual and hardened criminal who has around 34 cases registered against him, and is of notorious behavior, which is a threat to the jail security as he has the ability to create riotous situations. Therefore, in order to maintain the security of the prison and occurrence of any kind of prevent violence such measures have been taken.

Findings of the court

The court opined that security measures can only be imposed to a limit and that limit is placed by the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19and 21 of the Constitution of India which are even available to prisoners.  Further the court held that the stringent measures cannot be justified on the grounds of maintenance of discipline.

Conclusion

Bad or notorious, in whatever way an inmate may behave but we cannot forget that at the end of the day they are also human beings, and there are other humane lawful ways to control their behavior and ensure discipline in the jail. Furthermore, the crucial components in the philosophy of sentencing i.e., reformation and rehabilitation, cannot be implemented in line of such inhumane treatment of inmates. A progressive society needs to embrace the growing challenges but not through orthodox means, but through a more liberalized approach.

Read the full judgment here:

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