S.O.S e – Clarion Of Dalit – Weekly Newspaper On Web
Working For The Rights & Survival Of The Oppressed
Editor: NAGARAJA.M.R… VOL.11 issue.26…… . 05 / 07 / 2017
PIL – Discrimination in Indian Jails / Prisons
An Appeal to Honourable Supreme Court of India , Karnataka High Court & National Human Rights Commission
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. OF 2017
IN THE MATTER OF
NAGARAJA . M.R
editor SOS e Clarion of Dalit & SOS e Voice for Justice
# LIG 2 , No 761 ,, HUDCO First Stage , Laxmikantanagar ,
Hebbal , Mysore – 570017 , Karnataka State
Honourable Chief Secretary , Government of Karnataka & Others
PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 12 to ARTICLE 35 & ARTICLE 51A OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA FOR ISSUANCE OF A WRIT IN THE NATURE OF MANDAMUS UNDER ARTICLE 32 & ARTICLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA.
Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India and His Lordship’s Companion
Justices of the Supreme Court of India. The Humble petition of the
Petitioner above named.
MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH :
- Facts of the case:
“Power will go to the hands of rascals, , rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight among themselves for
power and will be lost in political squabbles . A day would come when even air & water will be taxed.” Sir Winston made this statement in the House of Commons just before the independence of India & Pakistan. Sadly , the forewarning of Late Winston Churchill has been proved right by some of our criminal , corrupt public servants.
As per law , all citizens of india are equal. However under trials ( who are innocents till proven guilty ) are discriminated in Indian jails. Ordinary citizens / accused are crammed in rooms resembling pig stays . whereas accused from rich / influential back grounds are given separate rooms with cot , bed , television , news paper , etc.
As per law , all citizens of india are equal. A criminal is a criminal . However Indian prison authorities discriminates here also. Former ministers who looted crores of rupees from public exchequer , corporate persons industrialists who have cheated public , public banks of crores of rupees are given royal treatment , get best food , health care where as an ordinary pick pocket , house burglar are treated like slaves , pigs don’t get proper food , health care.
India Jail Manual procedures differentiate prisoners based on their caste , social background , while allotting prison cells , food , visitor facility , parole , mandatory work , recreation facilities – which in itself is illegal.
Apart from this , corruption in Indian jails is rampant. Prisoners with money , influence get everything within jail itself , mobile phone , drugs , fire arms , etc. some mafia dons run their empire from prison itself.
Poor prisoners are tortured by police , jail personnel and criminals within jails. Indian Jails are reform centre , where everyone should treated equally in all respects. By practicing discrimination jail authorities are promoting small time criminals to commit bigger crimes to get royal treatment in society as well as in jail.
It is the duty of the judge who awards jail sentence to a convict or an accused , to ensure his safety , health care and to see that prisoner gets right punishment as per law. Here our judges have failed. SHAME SHAME to police & judges.
- Question(s) of Law:
Are not all prisoners equal ? is not theft of ten rupees or theft of thousand crores of rupees , both crimes ? Are not both criminals thieves ? then why differentiation ? Is it not the constitutional duty of a judge who has awarded jail sentence to an accused / a convict , to ensure safety , health care of the said prosiner ? is it not the duty of the judge to monitor whether the convict is getting right punishment as per law nothing less nothing more ?
Requests for equitable justice , equal treatment of prisoners. Requests of stopping torture of poor prisoners. Prosecution of corrupt judges , police & jail personnel.
Prosecute Sanjay Dutt under TADA
Revoke Bail of Salman Khan
Aeroplane Rides for Corrupt Police Corrupt Judges
Traitors in Judiciary & Police
Crimes by Khaki
FIRST Answer Judges Police
Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to consider this as a PIL for : “writ of Mandamus” and to issue instructions to the concerned public servants in the cases to perform their duties.
In the above premises, it is prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased:
a . Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to consider this as a PIL for : “writ of Mandamus” and to issue instructions to the concerned public servants , Government of Karnataka authorities in the case to perform their duties.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to immediately annul the Jail Manuals of all state governments of india , which are discriminatory.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to constitute an expert committee to frame a “ Model Jail Manual “ applicable to all Indian states , union territories.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to initiate legal prosecution of jail personnel , police & judges who failed in their duties to ensure safety of prisoners , resulting in torture of prisoners.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to order all state governments to ensure food , health care , recreational facilities , parole on an equal footing to all prisoners without discrimination.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to order respective state governments pay compensation to prisoners for suffering discrimination , torture.
- Hereby , I do request the honorable supreme court of India to order respective state governments pay compensation to prisoners who spent years behind bars , finally acquitted by courts and in the case of prisoners who spent more years in jail than the quantum of punishment codified in IPC due to prolonged case trials. In both such cases afterwards state government must recover money from respective presiding judges , investigation officer & government legal prosecutor.
h . to pass such other orders and further orders as may be deemed necessary on the facts and in the circumstances of the case.
FOR WHICH ACT OF KINDNESS, THE PETITIONER SHALL BE DUTY BOUND, EVER PRAY.
Dated : 28th June 2017 …………………. FILED BY: NAGARAJA.M.R.
Place : Mysuru , India…………………….PETITIONER-IN-PERSON
Editorial : Safety of Jail Inmates Responsibility of Judges
The presiding judge of the case who issues arrest warrant against a person , who rejects the bail plea of the accused and the judge who remands accused to police custody / judicial custody is fully responsible for safety , human rights of the prison / jail inmates. Use of 3rd degree torture is rampant in jails and in all such cases , respective presiding judges must be made to pay compensation from their pockets and judges must be charged for AIDING & ABETTING THE MURDER ATTEMPT on prisoner by jail / police authorities. Are the JUDGES & POLICE above Law ?
Review: In Jails, Illegality Is the Norm
BY MAHTAB ALAM
Sunetra Choudhury‘s Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous highlights how different jail experiences can be depending on who you are and what you can pay.
When I met Santosh Yadav, a journalist from Bastar, for an early morning breakfast in Delhi a few weeks ago, he looked happy. There was a sense of relief and freedom in his eyes. Yadav had been recently released on bail after 17 months of imprisonment. He was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police in September 2015 from his village Darbha in Bastar. At the time of his arrest, Yadav used to report for two Hindi local dailies, the Navbharat and Chhattisgarh. He was accused of being a Maoist supporter and charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and other laws pertaining to crimes ranging from rioting, criminal conspiracy, murder, criminal intimidation and with being a part of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), among the other alleged offences. He was granted bail by the Supreme Court on February 26 this year, after his earlier bail petitions were rejected by the lower courts.
As soon as he started narrating his jail experiences, he assumed a different persona altogether. There was a sense of intense gloom and despair in his eyes. “What I saw and went through in jail was beyond my imagination,” he said, adding that “I used to think aisa angrezon ke samay hi hota hoga (things like this could have only happened during colonial rule).” Yadav said he was severely tortured and even kept in solitary confinement during his incarceration, apart from routine beatings by the other inmates on the instructions of the jail officials. Listening to Yadav was like re-reading journalist Iftikhar Gilani’s jail memoir, My Days in Prison. Gilani had been jailed in June 2002 on the charges of possessing ‘classified documents’ and booked under the draconian Official Secrets Act. The only evidence presented was a report he had downloaded from the internet. Eventually, he was discharged. In his memoir, Gilani writes, “I was beaten up many times while inside the prison. For 41 days, I worked as a labourer…”
Not everyone goes through the trials and tribulations that Yadav and Gilani underwent. Jail can be quite a ‘haven’ for some, depending primarily on one’s socio-economic background and political influence, irrespective of how grave the charges or the crimes committed. In fact, it’s possible that the graver the nature of the alleged crime, the better the facilities you can avail. All, of course, through illegal means. Unfortunately, in jails, illegality is the norm.
Sunetra Choudhury’s book Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous tells us how all of this is possible. In so doing, she gives us a glimpse of the underground and parallel economy of jails across the country. Based on extensive secondary research and detailed interviews with people who have spent time in jail as well as those who have worked in or on jails, Choudhury presents a series of stories which are nothing short of eye-opening – dare I say, even eye-popping – in their revelations.
Choudhury profiles the incarceration of 13 people who are either in jail or were at one point of time. While the book mostly concentrates on describing famous people in prison, it does cover others as well. Among the former are politicians Amar Singh, A. Raja and Pappu Yadav, the arms dealer Abhishek Verma’s wife, Anca Verma, CEO Peter Mukherjea and Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy. Businessman Subrata Roy of Sahara also finds a brief mention in the introduction.
Narrating her meeting with Roy, Choudhury writes:
“After walking through a long corridor inside the Chandragupta suite [at the Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi] that had been used by heads of state, and after passing a room that only had his shoes, I was ushered into a sitting room with Roy. He was very polite and spoke to me in Bangla, appreciating my work as I’m sure his secretary may have briefed him. Someone brought in some mishit doi and sandesh. As soon as I took out my notebook he said, ‘Listen, don’t include me in this book of yours. I’m not a criminal.’ I told him that not everyone featured in my book would be a criminal. Many would be those wrongly accused of crimes which led them to unfairly spend long years in custody. ‘But I am different. There isn’t even an FIR against me,’ he clarified.”
Roy was given VIP treatment during his jail term. In fact, as the author informs us, he paid a whopping Rs 1.23 crore for the facilities that he received in Tihar. He lived like a king even in jail.
Unbelievable and ridiculous as it may sound, the sad reality is, in the words of Anca Verma, “If you steal 1,000 rupees, the hawaldar will beat the shit out of you and lock you up in in a dungeon with no bulb or ventilation. If you steal 55,000 crore rupees then you get to stay in a 40-foot cell which has four split units, internet, fax, mobile phones and a staff of ten to clean your shoes and cook you food.” This singular quote from the book speaks volumes about the privileges and deprivation faced by people in jails, given their money power and political connections. It also tells us about the rotten nature of our criminal justice system. However, as the author notes, “special treatment in jail is, of course, not a new phenomenon.” She draws our attention towards the case of the infamous Charles Sobhraj. However, what is striking is how, over a period of time, a new normal of ‘super’ special treatment for a certain type of jail inmate has been drawn into our discourse.
Among the most tragic and lesser-known stories is the one of Rehmana. Hers is a clear case of guilt by association. Now out of jail, she is the wife of Pakistani national, Arif who is currently on death row for being an operative of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba convicted in the Red Fort attack case. Though there are several unanswered questions about Arif being an operative of the LeT and his involvement in the attack, Rehmana and her entire family suffer for the crime. “Don’t write their names,” Rehmana requested the author when she met her for an interview.
“Rehmana’s aware that she’s already created considerable problems for everyone associated with her. One of her sisters, a government school teacher in Bhopal, is afraid that Rehmana has spoilt her daughter’s chances of getting a good match. Her brother, a year younger than Rehmana, is still mentally disturbed by all that had happened. Rehmana may have married Arif but they were all hauled to the police station for one night in December. And that night’s nightmare is still too scary for them to emerge from.”
The story of the transgender bar dancer Khushi Sheikh as well as that of the school teacher and a once terror accused Wahid Sheikh are nothing short of horrifying. In both these cases, the perpetrators are those who are entrusted by law to protect the lives and liberties of the people – the police. Referring to Wahid’s case, the author confesses that “Even after two decades of reporting, his account gave me sleepless nights. I realised how in daily journalism we err in relying too much on what authorities say, in not questioning the prosecution agency.”
“Wahid stands acquitted after a decade in jail yet there is no compensation for the time he has lost, for the wounds that he bore from prison. Wahid has given real names of his tormentors, not just to me, but to courts and judges. All of them are decorated police officers—A. N. Roy, K. P. Raghuvanshi, Vijay Salaskar. You can’t dismiss his words because he (Wahid was not convicted) and the others who have been convicted can show you a Mumbai High Court judgement which upholds how they were beaten in jail, their rights violated and then denied medical treatment.”
Though the author regrets not having been able to include the stories of politician M.K. Kanimozhi, IPS officer R. K. Sharma and actress Monica Bedi, one feels that she could have tried including some of the most important stories of those who are either still lodged in jail or have spent years in the prisons of central Indian states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. Stories of people like Soni Sori, Linga Kodopi and Jiten Marandi would have enriched the book. Nevertheless, it is a well-researched book and should be read widely and translated into Indian languages.
Jailed for Over a Year, Chhattisgarh Journalist Santosh Yadav Granted Bail
Bastar-based Santosh Yadav had been jailed in September 2015 by the Chhattisgarh police who accused him of having links with Naxals and of involvement in operations against the security forces.
Chhattisgarh journalist Santosh Yadav was granted bail by the Supreme Court, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced in a tweet. Yadav was arrested in September 2015 by the state police under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act for “associating with a terrorist organisation” and “supporting and aiding terrorist groups”.
Yadav, a Bastar-based freelance journalist, was arrested on September 29, 2015, after Chhattisgarh Police Special Task Force Commander Mahant Singh had said he saw him standing behind a Maoist fighter during an ambush in Darbha in August of that year. The district police echoed Singh’s claims, accusing Yadav of being a Maoist sympathiser; the superintendent also announced that Yadav was suspected of having links with Shankar, a Maoist leader in the area. However, Singh later “expressed inability to identify the accused with certainty”, according to an identification parade memo dated January 1, 2016.
Described as a fearless writer by fellow journalists, Yadav has contributed stories to various Hindi dailies including Dainik Navbharat, Patrika and Dainik Chhattisgarh, reporting on human rights violations in Bastar. Yadav often introduced the family members of those arrested by state police forces to the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, a lawyers’ collective that offered free legal services to victims of police excesses. Journalists and activists across the country protested following Yadav’s arrest.
Yadav had served as a point of contact and verification for other reporters writing Bastar, which has been described as a media blackhole, with journalists subjected to routine threats, intimidation, and harassment by both Maoists and the police.
In the chargesheet filed by the Chhattisgarh Police on February 17, 2016, Yadav was charged under various sections of the Arms Act 1959 and the Explosive Substances Act 1908. He was also charged under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA) and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA), both of which are anti-terrorism legislations.
Sudha Bharadwaj, general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, told Scroll.in that the UAPA and the CSPSA are “widely held as draconian as the ‘unlawful activity’ laid down in these Acts are vague and so broad as to be highly amenable to gross abuse and arbitrary and unreasonable action by the state police and administration”.
Yadav’s case points to the broader issue of dwindling press freedom in India, coupled with increasing rates of violence against journalists. In its report published in December 2016, the CPJ had said Yadav was the only Indian journalist to be imprisoned because of his work. According to the 2016 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), India ranks abysmally low at 133 among 180 countries, The Hindu reported.“Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems indifferent to these threats and problems, and there is no mechanism for protecting journalists,” the RSF report asserted.
Covert op on Dawood compromised by some Mumbai cops: RK Singh
Noting that Dawood and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed were protected by Pakistani forces, Singh said a secret operation must be carried out in the manner the United States did to kill terrorists Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
India had planned a covert operation to take down underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but the operation was compromised by some Mumbai Police officials. These are the explosive revelations made by former Home Secretary and now BJP leader RK Singh in an interview to Seedhi Baat on Aaj Tak.
RK Singh revealed details of how corrupt elements of the Mumbai Police foiled a secret operation to take down Dawood. The operation was launched when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister and current NSA Ajit Doval was at the IB. Indian government had roped in some elements from the Chota Rajan gang and they were being trained at a secret location outside Maharashtra. But Mumbai Police officials who were in touch with D-company landed up at the training camp with arrest warrants for the covert operatives who had been engaged by India. The entire operation to take down Dawood failed due to these rogue elements in Mumbai police. This is the first time that there is confirmation of a botched covert operation to take down Dawood by someone who has held a position of authority.
Noting that Dawood and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed were protected by Pakistani forces, Singh said a secret operation must be carried out in the manner the United States did to kill terrorists Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. He added that Pakistan will never admit that Dawood is in Pakistan. Similarly, it will shamelessly deny the presence of other terrorists despite funding and training these terror groups on its soil. “India must repeat the Myanmar operation in Pakistan,” he maintained. He added if one operation fails, the government shouldn’t be disheartened but launch another operation right away.
Singh said Modi’s advisors are not giving him the right advice on this issue. “Nothing will be achieved by handing over dossiers to Pakistan. It is globally recognised as a snake pit. We can’t depend on the US to fight India’s battles. India has to fight its own enemies,” Singh added.
Singh also said the neighbouring country needs to be wise and avert a possible war by not shielding a terrorist. “Pakistan has to calculate the cost of a war. I don’t think Pakistan is such a big fool that it would engage in a war with India,” he said. “If America sees any threat from Pakistan, it will act. Similarly, Israel can kill its enemies. We need to develop this mentality,” he added. The retired bureaucrat revealed that specially-trained private security men comprising mostly ex-army men protect Dawood in Pakistan under the supervision of the ISI. Singh exuded confidence that Modi’s visit to the UAE would yield desirable results. He did acknowledge though that Dawood still has significant influence in Dubai.
Coming down heavily on Pakistan, Singh said India must stop dialogue with its neighbor and instead deal with the situation in a strategic manner. “India must hit back in a way that hurts Pakistan the most,” he said while suggesting that the dialogue process only helps Pakistan restore credibility which it has lost all over the world. “Pakistan believes in a constant war with India. We have the capability to hit back hard. Any dialogue with Pakistan is futile. For a discredited country like Pakistan, dialogue process is an opportunity to regain its credibility and strike parity with India,” Singh said. He said the elected government in the neighbouring country had no control over its military force and the ISI.
Singh lauded the central government’s firm stand on separatists in Kashmir. He said the Pakistani government was using separatists to claim in international platform that it has the support of a section of people in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government has done the right thing by not talking to separatists, he said.
Criminal justice system victimises poor and vulnerable: CJI
New Delhi: The criminal justice system largely victimises the poor and vulnerable sections of society and there is an urgent need for reform on multiple fronts, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said today as he called for the scrapping of laws which criminalise begging and sex work.
“Not only does the criminal justice system largely victimise the poor and vulnerable sections of society, very often, laws themselves criminalise poverty and destitution,” Dattu said on the occasion of Law Day function on the Supreme Court lawns.
“In India, laws criminalising beggary, sex work and certain occupations of the tribal community are often largely seen by the scholars and human rights activists as widening the net of criminality by punishing destitution.
“Along with legal aid, there must be an intense process to redo the acts that are criminalised towards decriminalisation of acts that has a disproportionate impact on the poor,” he said at the function where Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, too, was present.
On the issue of protection of women against sexual violence, Dattu said, “We seem to be having a growing affinity for ensuring physical safety of women by curbing their freedom.
“As far as I am concerned, I would like to emphatically state in no uncertain terms that the security of women is not achieved by curbing their freedom and liberty and it is no security at all. We have to evolve some systematic reforms,” he said.
The Law Minister, who spoke before the Chief Justice, dwelt upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ project, saying that the country is being converted into a major global player through the creation of a business- friendly environment.
Efforts should be undertaken to make India an international arbitration hub, he added.
He said, “The government is pushing the concept of ‘Make in India’ and converting the country into a major global player, for which we need to have a business-friendly environment.
In ‘safe’ custody
In-custody torture, though illegal under law, is often resorted too, worldwide, making it one of worst forms of human rights violations. Meenakshi Ganguly, former Time journalist and now, South Asia director, Human Rights Watch, takes up a few questions here to address the subject. Excerpts:
Do you think India should also come out with an official report documenting in-custody torture as the U.S. Senate recently did on CIA’s secret torture program?
Torture and other ill-treatment are absolutely forbidden under universally applicable international laws. Most that defend torture argue, as was done by the CIA, that harsh methods are necessary when there is great danger to public security. They speak of the ‘ticking bomb.’ In fact, any experienced interrogator would agree that using torture is not effective because it can produce inaccurate intelligence or generate false leads. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program shows that not only was the CIA torture far more brutal and harsh than previously admitted, it was not an effective means of producing valuable or useful intelligence. Repeated claims that the program was necessary to protect Americans turned out to be false.
India has prepared a draft bill seeking to prohibit torture. But as long as there is a culture of impunity, where public officials are protected from prosecution, the law will fail.
Some argue that our judiciary already has enough checks and balances to protect prisoners from abuse. Do you agree with it?
Indian law does not allow confessions to the police as evidence because there is concern that such confessions might be coerced. Under POTA, confessions to the police were permitted, and eventually the law was repealed because it was abused.
Although most police will argue that “third degree” is generally discouraged, in our discussions with the police we also found that it is the most used instrument in their non-existent toolkit. Overworked, where good work is seldom rewarded, junior level staff is expected to produce prompt results — and they do so by rounding up suspects and beating them, hoping to solve the case. Inevitably, they end up with false leads, often make wrong arrests and are unable to secure convictions due to lack of evidence. Poor witness protection and harassment to witnesses also means that they do not want to get involved in a long drawn out trial.
The senior officer level police complain of undue pressure from politicians and powerful figures, who can act as patrons to criminals, demanding they be protected from arrest and prosecution. Instead of upholding the law, it is the police that end up breaking it. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government must engage in police reform. This is crucial to ensure that police in India becomes an effective and accountable force. The judiciary rightly acquits people for lack of evidence. But if police does not receive the training to gather proper evidence, it also means that criminals can get away, while innocents suffer wrongful Muslim, calling me a traitor arrests, torture, and lengthy under trial detention. It also leads to an even more frightening outcome — where the police do not have evidence to convict, they decide to be both judge and executioner, doling out punishment that can range from slaps to extrajudicial killings, or fake encounters.
What vital points does HRW’s in-custody torture report of 2011 throw up?
We found that there is urgent need to implement reforms to the criminal justice system. The police in India operates as it did under colonial rule. We found that fear of police is a barrier to seeking justice. Women and children, victims of sexual attacks, said they feared further abuse if they did venture into a police station. Dalits complain that if they muster the courage to complain, they often find that the victims are made to sit on the floor outside while the upper caste perpetrators are served tea by the officer. Muslims complain of being held in suspicion.
The constabulary and the police station is often the only State presence available to the public, and it is not a pleasant experience. Many policemen agreed that they are often rude and harsh, but they also point to their own frustration, having to deal with a range of issues from domestic violence to communal riots, often because the civil administration simply fails to do its part inimplementing policy. We found police stations with desktop computers, but no electricity or even a trained operator, forget access to data and information. At some places, the residential quarters were shocking. Policemen said they are accused of demanding money when they have to travel a distance in rural areas to investigate a complaint, but said there was a shortage of vehicles or funds to pay for fuel. On the other hand, we found that many State governments are yet to establish independent and effective human rights commissions or set up a complaints authority to investigate police abuse.
Don’t we have guidelines to prevent custodial torture?
The Supreme Court and the NHRC have laid down guidelines. Unfortunately, they are routinely ignored. That is why there is such a strong demand to seek the repeal of AFSPA to be replaced by one that has stronger human rights protections. The law provides widespread powers, but protects soldiers when those powers are abused.
In the investigation of terror attacks, police have made mistakes, often due to the use of torture. The Andhra Pradesh Minorities Rights Commission, for instance, found the wrongful use of torture and recommended compensations. In one case in Orissa, we had a man tell us that he was beaten by the police so severely, his leg was fractured. In agony, when the police continued to hit his injured leg, he blurted out the names of his office colleagues, who were then arrested and tortured. All of them were charged under the counter terror laws as members of the banned Maoist groups. Eventually, they were found to be innocent by the courts.
India is yet to sign the UN Convention Against Torture. Will it help?
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had even permitted UN special rapporteurs on torture to visit their countries but reports of in-custody torture continue to pour in from such countries. Police often say that human rights impose restrictions when tough measures are needed for tough challenges. Unfortunately, any compromise is only going to lead to bad outcomes.When the State allows, even rewards, its security forces to violate the fundamental principles of the Constitution, it rarely turns out well. It leads to corruption at the very least. It can also turn policemen into killers for hire, or as a military court discovered recently, lead soldiers to kill innocents for profit.
In Sri Lanka, we have documented torture including sexual abuse of suspected LTTE supporters and sympathisers. In Bangladesh, the Rapid Action Battalion was created as a counter-terror force, but instead has repeatedly been accused of extrajudicial executions. People want to feel safe. However, we often find that denial of rights can cause security challenges, but the continued violation of human rights aggravates the situation, leading to a cycle of violence and placing innocents at risk.
Muslims, dalits and tribals make up 53% of all prisoners in India
Muslims, dalits and adivasis — three of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society — make up more than half of India’s prison population, according to an official report on prisons released this month. Although the proportion of these three communities in India adds up to about 39%, their share amongst prisoners is considerably higher at 53%.
India had 4.2 lakh people in prison in 2013. Nearly 20% of them were Muslims although the share of Muslims in India’s population is about 13% according to Census 2001. Religion-wise data from Census 2011 is yet to be released but it is unlikely to be much different. Dalits make up 22% of prisoners, almost one in four. Their proportion in population is about 17% according to Census 2011. While adivasis make up 11% of prisoners, their share in the general population is 9%.
Most experts say that this disturbing trend is not because these communities commit more crimes. Rather, it arises because they are economically and socially under-privileged, unable to fight costly cases or often even pay for bail. Some say that these communities are targeted with false cases.
Former chief justice of Delhi high court Rajinder Sachar, who headed the committee that brought out a report on the condition of Muslim community in India in 2006, pointed out that there had been several cases of Muslim youths being acquitted after years in prison.
“Poverty is more prevalent among these three communities and that becomes an obstacle in dealing with the legal system,” said Colin Gonsalves, human rights activist and lawyer.
“Our system has an ingrained communal and casteist bias. Also, the proportion of these communities in the police officers and even judiciary is less. These are key factors behind this shocking imbalance,” he added.
Pointing out that nearly 68% of the prisoners are undertrials, Abusaleh Sharif, who was member-secretary of the Sachar Committee and later brought out an updated report on the conditions of Muslims, said that they had to remain behind bars because of inability to negotiate the hostile system.
“Among those in prison under preventive detention laws, nearly half are Muslims. This is the kind of thing that the government needs to speedily investigate and resolve,” Sharif said.
Ramesh Nathan of the National Dalit Movement for Justice alleged that false cases are filed against dalits in order to intimidate them, causing this disturbingly high number of prisoners among vulnerable sections.
“In my experience as a lawyer, whenever a dalit person files a case under the Atrocities Act, a false countercase under some penal code provision is filed by the culprits,” he said.
Prison statistics are published annually by the National Crime Records Bureau since 1995, although caste breakup is available since 1999. The proportions of Muslims, dalits and adivasis have remained virtually unchanged over the past 15 years indicating that this is a systemic problem.
NCRB data: Almost 68 percent inmates undertrials, 70 per cent of convicts illiterate
Almost 68 per cent of all inmates in the 1,387 jails in the country are undertrials, according to the latest figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2014. Over 40 per cent of all undertrials remain in jail for more than six months before being released on bail.
The percentage of undertrial prisoners who remain in jail for more than three months has also gone up from 62 per cent in 2013 to 65 per cent in 2014. The data looks worse when compared to previous years which showed a declining trend. In 2012, the figure stood at 62.3 per cent.
According to the NCRB data, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Punjab are the worst performing states, with over 75 per cent of undertrials remaining in jail for over three months. On the other hand, Kerala and Tripura recorded the lowest such cases — 35 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.
A large number of undertrials remain in jails due to their inability to secure bail. The highest percentage (27.3 per cent or 63,225 of the total 2,31,962) of undertrials under IPC crimes were charged with murder. Uttar Pradesh reported 17.9 per cent of such undertrials, followed by Bihar at 8.8 per cent. A total of 6,274 convicts were habitual offenders.
The NCRB data shows that there were 4,18,536 inmates in various jails against a capacity of 3,56,561. Chhattisgarh (259 per cent) and Delhi (222 per cent) were among those which reported high overcrowding. Muslims continue to form a large share of the undertrial population, with their numbers being disproportionate to their overall population.
According to the 2011 census, Muslims constitute 14.2 per cent of India’s population. But the community accounts for 21.1 per cent of all undertrials. Among the convicted inmates, however, the Muslim share is just over 16 per cent.
An analysis of the caste-based classification of undertrials reveals that 37.4 per cent are from general category, 31.3 per cent OBCs, 20 per cent Scheduled Castes and 11 per cent Scheduled Tribes.
A total of 318 convicts, including eight women, lodged in different jails were facing capital punishment at the end of 2014. Of these, 95 were awarded death sentences in 2014 alone. As many as 112 inmates had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment last year.
The data also show that 1,702 imates died in jails due to various reasons, of which 1,507 were recorded as natural deaths.
Health Care for Prisoners
People believe that prisoners are sent to prison as punishment, and not for punishment. This implies that the loss of an individuals right to liberty is enforced by containment in a closed environment. Thus keeping the individual in the custody of the state, should not, however, have a deleterious effect on him. But this is, unfortunately, the case to some degree or another in many of the worlds prisons. Is it possible then to define what is healthy environment in a prison? Let alone, talking about a prisoners right to health services that are to be provided to him by the prison authorities?
The answer to this question is that prisoners have unalienable rights conferred upon them by international treaties and covenants, they have a right to health care, and most certainly have a right not to contract diseases in prison. Prison jurisprudence recognizes that prisoners should not lose all their rights because of imprisonment. Yet, there is a loss of rights within custodial institutions, which continue to occur. Public health policies are meant to ensure the best possible living conditions for all members of society, so that everyone can be healthy. Prisoners are often forgotten in this equation. They are in constant contact with all kinds of people who come in and out of prison every day. This constant movement in and out of prison makes it all the more important to control any contagious disease within the prison so that it does not spread into the outside community.
In India, overcrowding has aggravated the problem of hygiene. In many jails, conditions are appalling. At the tehsil level jails, even rudimentary conveniences are not provided. Prisoners in India are not even tested for specific infectious diseases, although all prisoners undergo a medical examination when they begin serving their sentence. No studies of the prevalence of viral infections among prison inmates have been done at a national level. India’s prison manuals provide for
segregation of prisoners suspected of having contagious diseases. A few jails have established informal contacts with medical and social organizations for counseling of inmates to prevent the spread of infections.
Violence in prison settings has many causes. Clashes may have ethnic causes, or rivalries between clans or gangs. The closed, often vastly overcrowded, living conditions also lead to hostilities between inmates. The tedious prison environment, lack of occupation of mind and body and just plain boredom, lead to accumulated frustration and tension. This environment leads the way to high-risk activities, such as use of drugs and sex between men. Some indulge in these activities to combat boredom. Others, however, are forced to engage in them, in a coercive play for power or monetary gain. Risky lifestyles can lead to the transmission of diseases from one prisoner to other prisoners, and pose a serious public health risk if unchecked. Contracting any disease in prison is not part of a prisoners sentence. This fact becomes even more significant when the disease is potentially fatal, as is the case with HIV/AIDS.
The Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgment in Parmanand Katara vs Union of India (1989)and others ruled that the state has an obligation to preserve life whether he is an innocent person or a criminal liable to punishment under the law. With specific reference to health, the right to conditions, adequate for the health and well-being of all was already recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ( ICESR) furthermore states that prisoners have a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The minimum standard rules for prisoners regulate the provision of health care for them. Apart from the civil and political rights, the so-called second generation economic and social human rights, as set down in the ICESCR, also apply to prisoners. The right to the highest attainable standard of health should also apply to prison health conditions and health care. This right to health care and a healthy environment is clearly linked, particularly in the case of HIV, to other first generation rights, such as non-discrimination, privacy and confidentiality. Prisoners cannot fend for themselves in their situation of detention, and it is the responsibility of the state to provide for health services and a healthy environment.
Human rights instruments call for prisoners to receive health care at least equivalent to that available for the outside population. On one hand, equivalence rather than equity has been called for because a prison is a closed institution with a custodial role that does not always allow for the same provision of care available outside. Prisoners are more likely to already be in a bad state of health when they enter prison, and the unfavorable conditions therein worsen the health situation. Hence the need for health care and treatments will often be greater in a prison than in an outside community. However, providing even basic health care to prisoners has proved extremely difficult in India, as the health system is chronically insufficient.
In prisons, the human environment is often one of violence and high-risk lifestyles, either engaged in voluntarily by those prisoners with positions of power, or forced upon the weaker prisoners. Prisoners have a right to live in conditions where their individual safety is guaranteed. It is paramount for the prison administration to have a thorough knowledge of how HIV is likely to be transmitted in a given prison. If sexual coercion and/or violence are the main issue, better surveillance and timely intervention to protect targeted prisoners must be enforced. HIV-positive inmates should not be denied access to recreation, education or access to the outside world.
From a strictly medical point of view, there is no justification for segregation as long as the prisoner is healthy. Solitary confinement of HIV-positive inmates should be forbidden. Any restrictions should be exceptional, such as mandatory testing for particularly risky situations, such as prisoners working as medical orderlies in hospitals or dental clinics. There may also be considerations of personal security where, for example, prisoners known to be HIV-positive request to be kept in a secure unit as they fear for their own safety.
Both prison reform and penal reform are crucial elements if the many problems affecting the Indian prisons are to be resolved. Diminishing the overall prison population will allow improvements of the physical and working conditions of the prisons, and help to ensure the security of all individuals in custody. Obviously, financial resources will have to be allotted to the prison systems as well. One effective way to curb the rise in prison populations would be to offer alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent and civil offenders.
Prison Reforms In Indian Prison System:
All men are born equal and are endowed by their creator with some basic rights. These rights are mainly right to life and liberty, but if any person doesn’t comply with ethics of the society then that person is deprived of these rights with proper punishment.
Status of Jails In Punjab:
Goal or Jail or prison, the two forms of the word are due to the parallel dual forms in old Central and Norman respectively, ‘jaiole’ or ‘jaole’, and ‘gaiole’ or ‘gayole’. The spelling ‘jail’ is used in American prisons, were first used in England for punishment during sixteenth century.
Overcrowding of Civil Jails:
According to the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 51 empowers the court to order execution of a decree by arrest and detention in prison of the judgement debtor in appropriate cases for the period specified in section 58, CPC. No order of detention of the judgement debtor in civil prison is to be made where the total amount of the decree does not exceed five hundred rupees.
Role of Judiciary in Protecting the Rights of Prisoners:
Judiciary in every country has an obligation and a Constitutional role to protect Human Rights of citizens. As per the mandate of the Constitution of India, this function is assigned to the superior judiciary namely the Supreme Court of India and High courts.
The Problems of Undertrials:
Criminal Law of India is a replica of colonial times. It is hostile to the poor and the weaker sections of society.
Taking Prisoners Rights Seriously:
In the case of Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar , a shocking state of affairs in regard to the administration of justice came forward. An alarmingly large number of men and women, including children are behind prison bars for years awaiting trial in the court of law.
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