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Every Convict May Not Be Vijay Mallya, But Every Prisoner is Human


Active member
Vijay Mallya may have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but he sure has (inadvertently) done one good deed – bringing the issue of prison reforms back into the limelight.

Are prisoners persons? Yes, of course. To answer in the negative is to convict the nation and the Constitution of dehumanisation and to repudiate the world legal order,answeredthe Supreme Court of India in 1980. Since then, it is quite alarming to observe, that despite making much progress as a society, we have continued to ignore the issue of prison reforms.

Prisons are a state subject in India, which means that their administration and control fall under the respective state governments, who are at liberty to make rules and regulations. Over the course of several years, numerous Prison Model Manuals, committees and guidelines have been formed, but structural changes in prisons largely remain insignificant in political discourse.

  1. The Supreme Court took cognisance of the disturbing picture of prisons in 2016 after examining the conditions of the then 1382 prisons of India. The Court, in Re-Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons issued guidelines on certain issues plaguing the Indian correctional systems dealing with:
  2. overcrowding
  3. unnatural deaths of prisoners
  4. gross inadequacy of staff
  5. available staff being untrained
As per the data on Prison Statistics of 2015, 67.2 percent of prisoners in India are still at the undertrial stage. The presumption of innocence is a well-accepted norm and a deep-rooted principle in the Indian criminal system. However, due to the exceedingly long investigation process and prolonged court orders, innocent individuals end up languishing in jail. This has an unfavourable domino effect on the condition of prisons including staffing, facilities and management, resulting in an adverse impact on the mental and physical state of prisoners.



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