Prison reform guidelines, including installation of CCTVs in prisons for better surveillance, laid down

Supreme Court: While deliberating upon the recommendations made by the noted counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi who acted as the Amicus Curiae in the present case, the Division Bench of T.S. Thakur and R. Banumathi, laid down certain guidelines so as to prevent gross violations of human rights in prisons and usher in prison reforms. The guidelines/directions are as follows:

·         Directions issued to the states of Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland to set up State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in their territories, in consonance with Section 21 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and the Constitution

·         With regard to installation of CCTVs in police stations and prisons, the Court directed the States to identify police stations located in sensitive areas and install CCTV cameras in the same in a phased manner preferably within 1 year from the date of this judgment.

·         Directions given for filling up the vacancies for the post of Chairpersons and members of various SHRCs as vacancies make the Commissions dysfunctional, which is as good as having no Commissions at all, thus defeating the purpose of the 1993 Act. The Court further directed that the concerned States should work towards filling up the SHRC vacancies within 3 months from the date when the vacancy arises.

·         Directions given to the State Governments to contemplate upon setting up of Human Right Courts, in consonance with Section 30 of the 1993 Act.

·         The Court asked the States to take appropriate steps to appoint non-official visitors to prisons and police stations for making surprise inspection to check violation of human rights and to consider appointment of women constables in police stations wherever it is found that over a period of past 2 years women were detained in connection with any criminal case or investigation.

With regard to the installation of CCTVs in police stations, the Court noted and commended the approach of several States in taking necessary actions; however it was observed that it is necessary for all the States to implement this method, as it will go a long way in ensuring discipline among the jail inmates and prevention of human rights violations in jails.  Dilip K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 651decided on 24.07.2015

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