From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Prision reforms
The Supreme Court has taken up a report on Prison Reforms for hearing on before a Bench led by CJI Sharad A. Bobde.
About the Committee
- The court had in September 2018 appointed the Justice Roy Committee to examine the various problems plaguing prisons, from overcrowding to lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.
- Besides Justice Roy, a former Supreme Court judge, the members included an IG, Bureau of Police Research and Development, and the DG (Prisons), Tihar Jail.
- Every new prisoner should be allowed a free phone call a day to his family members to see him through his first week in jail.
- This is among the several recommendations — besides modern cooking facilities, canteens to buy essential items and trial through video-conferencing.
- The report described the preparation of food in kitchens as “primitive and arduous”.
- The kitchens are congested and unhygienic and the diet has remained unchanged for years now.
Staffing the prisons
- The court said overcrowding is a common bane in the under-staffed prisons. The Prison Department has a perennial average of 30%-40% vacancies.
- Both the prisoner and his guard equally suffer human rights violation.
- The undertrial prisoner, who is yet to get his day in court, suffers the most, languishing behind bars for years without a hearing.
- Speedy trial remains one of the best ways to remedy the unwarranted phenomenon of over-crowding.
- The report concluded that most prisons are “teeming with undertrial prisoners”, whose numbers are highly disproportionate to those of convicts.
- It said there should be at least one lawyer for every 30 prisoners.