Helping Human also looks after to protect the rights of the prisoners in India as death in judicial custody; premature release of the prisoners on the basis of their character rerecords in the Jail. The word prisoner means any person who is kept under custody in jail or prison because he/she committed an act prohibited by law of the land. A prisoner also known as an inmate is anyone who against their will is deprived of liberty. This liberty can be deprived by forceful restrain or confinement. Prisoners rights deal with the rights of the inmates while behind bars. Prisoners have basic legal rights that can’t be taken away from them.[1]The basic rights include right to food and water, right to have an attorney to defend himself, protection from torture, violence and racial harassment. Section 1 of the Prison Security Act1992, defines the term prisoner. The word prisoner means any person for the time being in a prison as a result of any requirement imposed by a court or otherwise that he be detained in legal custody. This paper presents the rights of the prisoners in detail with related case laws.

 

Various fundamental rights under Article, 14, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India impliedly deal with the rights of prisoners. Article 14 deals with right to equality which provides equality before law and equal protection of law to all persons.  Article 21 deals with right to life and personal liberty.  Article 20 deals, inter alia, with two things, firstly it prohibits double jeopardy, that is, no person should be convicted for same offence twice. Secondly, it prohibits self incrimination, that is, no one can be compelled to be witness against himself. Article 22 provides that a person must be produced before magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest and must be provided with a counsel of this own choice.  Famous constitutional writer Upendar Baxi has opined that scope of Article 21 is so vast that we do not need any other rights in our Constitution, and in the light of the Supreme Court’s ‘construction’ of the meaning of ‘life’ under Article 21, whereby all the rights such as right to health, right to food, right to shelter, right to bail, right to speedy trial, right to free legal aid, right against custodial violence and death in police lock-ups or encounters, Right to meet friends and family members, Right to reasonable wage in prison, right against cruel and unusual punishment etc., have been included under it.

 

International human rights laws protect people from racial discrimination, from torture and from enforced disappearances. They also recognize the rights of specific groups of people, including women, children, and people with disability, indigenous peoples and migrant workers. Some of these treaties are complemented by optional protocols that deal with specific issues or allow people to make complaints.

The Prisons Act, 1894:
This act is the first legislation regarding prison regulation in India. The following are some of the important provisions regarding prisoners’ rights:

  • Accommodation and sanitary conditions for prisoners.
  • Provisions relating to mental and physical state of prisoners.
  • Examination of prisoners by qualified medical officer.
  • Separation of prisoners for male, female, criminal, civil, convicted and under trial prisoners.
  • Provisions for treatment of under trials, civil prisoners, parole and temporary release of prisoners.
  • It is the duty of the government for the removal of any prisoner detained under any order or sentence of any court, which is of unsound mind to a lunatic asylum and other place where he will be given proper treatment.
  • Any court which is a high court may in case in which it has recommended to government the granting of a free pardon to any prisoner, permit him to be at liberty on his own cognizance.

 

The Supreme Court in US in Manna v. people of Illinois said that life is not merely animal existence. The souls behind the bar can’t be denied the same. The rights guaranteed by Art.21 are for every person and not even the state could deny it. Prisoners also have all the rights which a free man has under some restrictions. Just being in prison does not deprive them from their fundamental rights.