States and Union Territories directed to prepare plan of action for improvement of prison conditions by 31st March, 2017

Supreme Court:  The Bench of Madan B. Lokur and R.K. Agrawal, JJ showed it’s distress over the conditions prevalent in the prisons and said that even though this Court has held on several occasions that prisoners both under trials and convicts have certain fundamental rights and human rights, little or no attention is being paid in this regard by the States and some Union Territories including the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Stating that certainly fundamental rights and human rights of people, however they may be placed, cannot be ignored only because of their adverse circumstances, the Court issued the following directions:

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India directed to expedite the preparation of the Manual and ensure that it is ready positively on or before 30th November, 2016, considering the fact that more than sufficient time has elapsed but the Manual for juveniles in custody has not yet been prepared.
  • Noticing that not a single State or Union Territory has bothered to prepare a Plan of Action in relation to overcrowding of prisons, the States and the Inspector General of Prisons are directed to prepare a viable Plan of Action within the next six months and in any event by 31st March, 2017.
  • The Union of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs is directed to obtain the status of compliance of the orders passed on 5th February 2016 and 6th May, 2016 as on 30th September, 2016. The information should be collated by the Ministry of Home Affairs and shared with the learned Additional Solicitor General and the learned Amicus so that even the rights of prisoners, whether convicts or under trials are given due importance.

The Court said that unless due importance is given to the fundamental rights and human rights of the people, the right to life and the right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution will have no meaning. [In re Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons (II), 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1090, decided on 03.10.2016]

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