Prisoner’s Rights and Healthcare in India

Before understanding the rights of the prisoners we need to understand the term Human Rights. Human Rights are those rights which are entitled to human beings by the virtue of being humans, given by the state or any public authority. Every human being are entitled to human rights even the prisoners, since after commission of a crime they don’t cease to be humans and is entitled to the basic human dignity. However we should understand who are exactly prisoners? Before understanding their rights. Prisoners includes those people who by the restrictions imposed by the court or otherwise detained by legal custody. This includes confinement, captivity or by forcible restraint. Thus barring the punishment they should be entitled to the human rights which is entitled to them. Likewise it includes right to food and water, right to reasonable wages by the prisoners otherwise the work which they are doing will be considered as forced labor, right to have a lawyer and free legal aid, right against bullying and torture, right to have a speedy and fair trial. The legislation which dealt with rights of the prisoner were basically prisoners act 1894, Prisoners act 1900, Prisoners Act 1955, Model Manual Prison India and later emerged the constitution of India which included the rights which were implied in nature and the judgments were also a source for establishing their rights.

Before discussing the different articles, which gives rights to prisoners / other citizens which should know that the rights under constitution are not absolute but conditional.  Under the Indian Constitution the articles which entitle the rights of the prisoners are Article 21- this article guarantees right to life and liberty this right extends up to nationals and foreigners thus we see that the prisoners shouldn’t be deprived by life and liberty until it is mentioned so by the court as his/her punishment. Article 20(1) protects the person from being given any harsh punishment if it has not been prescribed during the time of punishment. The next article which deals with the 20(2) says that no one should be punished for the same offense twice. Article 19 even allows the prisoners to form association with inmates peacefully. Article 22(4) to (7) are also very important and gives the right of the detenue article 22(4) basically says that the period for which a person can be detained is basically 2 months and not more than that, another is 22(5) which gives the rights of the detenues. Judgments include the case of DK Basu v State of West Bengal, shows how custodial death is one of the important problems faced by prisoners in India even custodial violence was dealt in this case; thus this case stood as a landmark judgment and the conditions for arrest were clearly elaborated which needed to be followed. Thus judiciary has played an important role through different judgments in maintaining the rights of the prisoners. Mahammad Giasuddin v. State of A.P. in this case the judgment basically deals with the payment of wages to the prisoners for their work or hard labor. Prem Shanker Shukla v. Delhi Administration, in this case the court basically deals with handcuffing shouldn’t be done unless it has been warranted. Francies Corale Mullin vs. the Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi & others this basically deals with personal liberty and right to meet lawyer in presence of an officer and right to meet relatives.

However the lack of proper legislation; have been one of the factors which has hindered the healthcare and rights of the prisoners. Other than the rights the healthcare aspect is one which should be looked into, prisoners are exposed to various forms of health care issues like which included high amount of mental disorder like stress and depression, respiratory disorder, there is also other contagious diseases, there are problems of drug abuse, alcoholism, trauma, homicide, suicide, violence, neuropsychiatric diseases, epilepsy, stress manifestations, HIV infection and AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, skin infections, and so on which is mainly the outcome of the conditions which are present within the prison which has to be changed in order to improve their health conditions. As the number of deaths due to the bad living conditions within the prison increasing there is a dire need within the developing countries to improve the conditions of the prisons. These overcrowded prisons, firstly needs to increase in size, so that the level of accommodation increases too. Even it needs to have a higher level of sanitation and hygiene. The use of drugs has to be curbed. They should also have a regular check up of these prisoners not only physical check up but their mental state should be tested as well.


Ankita Bakshi