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Slew of Directions on Prison Reforms by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court highlighted the need for an overhaul in order to improvise the conditions of the prisoners across the country.

The Supreme Court, after taking into account the data, facts and statistics available at hand with regard to increasing number of custodial or unnatural deaths provided by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), highlighted the need for an overhaul in order to improvise the conditions of the prisoners across the country. 

The court observed that the theory practiced in the prisons across India is the theory of retribution and deterrence whereas our criminal justice system believes in rehabilitation and reformation and time for the State has actually come to go beyond circulars and advisories and come to grips with the reality. The rejection of this philosophy is eventually leading to violence and unnatural death in prisons. The apex Court issued various points with regard to compensation, awareness, sensitization, counselling, visitation rights, open jails and custodial death of children, some of which have been mentioned as follows:

Compensation: The court requested the High Court of Delhi to register a suo moto PIL with the objective of identifying the next kin of the deceased after 2012 and award suitable compensation, unless adequate compensation has been awarded.

Custodial death of Children: The court directed the Ministry of Women & Child Development of the Government of India to find out any case if there is with respect to the unnatural death of children and and take necessary steps in this regard by December 31, 2017.

Open Jails: The court observed the establishment of open prisons in Delhi as this experiment was quite successful in Himachal Pradesh and other states as well.

Visitation rights: The court also focused on encouraging the visits to a prison by a family member and in addition explore the possibility of using phones and video conferencing for communication.

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Reviewed by:
Simran Bhullar
Published on 16-Sep-17