All You Need To Know About Prisoners Rights

Law
30-Jan-2023
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While a convict retains basic human rights, their freedom is appropriately restricted by Indian laws, including the Constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code, Prison Act of 1894, and Prisoners Act of 1955. These regulations ensure prisoners are treated with dignity, providing rights such as legal counsel, fair trial, medical care, information about detention, communication with family, legal aid, and protection from torture. These rights are also upheld by international treaties. Fundamental rights cannot be revoked, remaining a cornerstone of human rights in India.

These rights of prisoners in India are also guaranteed by international treaties and conventions that India is a party to. 

Rights of Prisoners under the Indian Constitution

The following are the rights of prisoners under the Indian constitution:

Right to Retroactive Law Protection, Limited Punishment, Double Jeopardy, and the Privilege Against Self-Incrimination (Article 20)

  • No conviction for any offense unless it violates the law in force at the time of the act.
  • Punishment cannot exceed the penalty applicable under the law at the time of the offense.
  • Prohibition of prosecuting and punishing a person for the same offense more than once (Double Jeopardy).
  • Right of the accused not to be compelled to testify against themselves.

Right to Life, Liberty, and Dignity under Article 21

  • Constitutional Safeguard: No deprivation of life and personal liberty without lawful justification
  • Sacred Right: Personal Liberty under Article 21 is a fundamental and cherished constitutional right
  • Inclusive Protection: Human dignity is inherent in personal liberty, encompassing protection against government-inflicted torture and assault.

Rights under Article 22

  • Right to be informed of grounds for arrest
  • Right to consult with a lawyer
  • Right to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours
  • Right to release on bail, except in preventive detention cases
  • Establishment of 'Narcotic Commissioner' and 'Special Court' for certain offenses
  • Rights of persons detained preventively, including the right to be informed of grounds, legal representation, and presentation before an advisory board within three months.

Rights of Prisoners under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, comprehensive provisions ensure the protection of rights for individuals within the criminal justice system, particularly those in prison. The following are the rights of prisoners under the code of criminal procedure:

Right to Bail (Section 50)

Allows temporary release while awaiting trial; bail set by a judge, based on crime severity and flight likelihood; protected by Code of Criminal Procedure; bail denial possible for flight risk or community danger.

Right to be taken to Magistrate without Delay (Section 56)

Mandates prisoners' production before the Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, ensuring timely legal processes.

Right to Free Legal Aid (Section 304)

Ensures legal assistance for prisoners, incorporated into the Constitution via the 42nd Amendment; a vital principle in framing rules for individuals within the criminal justice system.

Right to examination by Medical Practitioner (Section 54)

Secures the right to health care; doctors in government hospitals are obligated to provide life-preserving medical assistance, emphasizing the duty of medical professionals.

Search of A Female Prisoner (Section 54)

Requires utmost decency during female prisoner searches, to be conducted exclusively by female officers, protecting privacy and dignity.

Right To Be Present During Trial (Section 273)

Protects the fundamental right to be physically present, participate, question witnesses, and consult with an attorney during trial proceedings.

Right To Get Copies of The Document (Section 208)

Allows examination of recorded statements; magistrate's discretion to permit prisoners to examine documents personally or through representatives, ensuring fair legal processes.

Right To Appeal

Basic right for prisoners to appeal lower court judgments in higher courts, ensuring access to a fair legal review.

Right To Human Treatment (Section 55 A)

Guards prisoners' dignity and right to live with dignity, extending the scope of Article 21 under the Indian Constitution.

Right To Education

Recognizes the Fundamental Right to education for prisoners; court intervention to regulate work and education, ensuring quality and avoiding monotonous or mechanical activities.

Rights Under The Prisoners Act, 1894

The Prisons Act, of 1894, provides various rights to prisoners to ensure their fair treatment and well-being

Right to Humane Treatment

The Prisons Act, 1894, mandates that prisoners must be treated with dignity, safeguarding their basic human rights and protecting them from inhumane or degrading treatment.

Right to Medical Care

Ensuring prisoners' health needs are met, the Act guarantees access to medical assistance and healthcare services, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the well-being of individuals in custody.

Right to Legal Counsel

Under the Prisons Act, prisoners are entitled to legal representation, reinforcing the principle of a fair legal process and providing a mechanism for individuals to defend their rights.

Right to Communication

The Act recognizes prisoners' rights to communicate with their families and legal representatives, facilitating essential connections and support systems during their incarceration.

Right to Adequate Living Conditions

The Prisons Act mandates that prisoners be provided with decent living conditions, encompassing proper sanitation, accommodation, and basic necessities to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Right to Privacy

Prisoners are entitled to a degree of privacy within the prison environment, protecting personal belongings and correspondence to maintain a semblance of personal space.

Right to Education and Vocational Training

 The Act supports prisoners' intellectual and skill development, emphasizing access to educational programs and vocational training opportunities to promote rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Protection from Discrimination and Abuse

The Prisons Act establishes safeguards to protect prisoners from discrimination and any form of physical or mental abuse, fostering an environment that upholds equal treatment and human dignity.

Right to Religious Practices

Recognizing the importance of religious freedom, prisoners have the right to practice their religion, subject to reasonable restrictions for the maintenance of security and order within the prison.

Right to Access Legal Resources

The Act ensures prisoners have access to legal resources, including information about their rights and available legal remedies, empowering them to navigate the legal system effectively.

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