Supreme Court Advocates for Open Prisons to Address Overcrowding and Prisoner Rehabilitation


In a recent development, the Supreme Court suggested the establishment of more open prisons across the country, drawing inspiration from the existing model in Rajasthan. Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed that this approach could alleviate prison overcrowding while facilitating the rehabilitation of inmates.

Justice Sandeep Mehta, who hails from Rajasthan, highlighted the benefits of open prisons, noting that they enable prisoners to interact with the community, earn a livelihood during the day, and return to the facility in the evening.

To delve deeper into this matter, the Court appointed another Amicus Curiae in an ongoing case concerning prisoners' welfare and enlisted the assistance of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

"We, therefore, request Mr. K Parameswar, who has worked on these issues, to assist us as Amicus, in addition to Mr. Vijay Hansaria who is already assisting us. We also request Ms. Rashmi Nandakumar who appears on behalf of NALSA also to assist us next Thursday," the bench stated in its order.

The genesis of this discussion stems from a 2020 public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Suhas Chakma, focusing on the welfare of prisoners.

The concept of open prisons has gained traction within the Indian judiciary, with recent advocacy for their wider implementation. In March, the Chhattisgarh High Court directed the state government to explore the feasibility of adopting open prisons. Similarly, the Allahabad High Court urged the Uttar Pradesh government to study the concept of 'open jails' as a means to enhance the welfare of incarcerated individuals.

The Supreme Court's endorsement of open prisons underscores a progressive approach toward prison reform, aiming to mitigate overcrowding and foster prisoner rehabilitation for a more effective criminal justice system.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer, MIT ADT University