In April, 2011 PVCHR[i] in consultation with member organization of NATT[ii] officially launched detention watch to monitor any type of detention happening with the adult and children in Judicial Custody, Police Custody, Custody in Remand Home and Administrative Custody to strengthen and expansion of its previous work of PVCHR for focusing on rights of prisoners and rights during the times of detention.
The strategy of the detention watch based on 1.Policy to practice and 2. Practice to Policy. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right of personal liberty and thereby prohibits any inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment to any person whether (s) he is a national or foreigner. Already many guidelines and direction from time to time were given by Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Court of various state courts for the well – being of prisoners and rights during detentions.[iii]
Our strategic actions are as follows:
- Court Intervention: Public Interest Litigation (PIL)[iv] and writ petition
- Meta- Legal Intervention: With various concerned authorities and National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi.
- Rehabilitation of the acquitted prisoners.
- Policy level intervention for prison reform, advocating for the implementation of various recommendations by the committee and intervention on the trial procedures.
- Monitoring the prison and homes through using of Right to Information Act – to know actual knowledge condition of the prisons.
- Visit to juvenile home and visit to correction home for women in collaboration with QIC-AC network.
- Tracking the cases of custodial death, torture in police custody, administrative custody and homes through various site alerts.
[i] Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights
[ii] National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy
[iii] The existing statutes which have a bearing on regulation and management of prisons in the country are:
(i) The Indian Penal Code, 1860. (ii) The Prisons Act, 1894. (iii) The Prisoners Act, 1900. (iv) The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920. (v) Constitution of India, 1950 (vi) The Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950. (vii) The Representation of People‟s Act, 1951. (viii) The Prisoners (Attendance in Courts) Act, 1955.
(ix) The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. (x) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. (xi) The Mental Health Act, 1987. (xii) The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2000. (xiii) The Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003. (xiv) Model Prison Manual (2003).
3. Various Committees, Commissions and Groups have been constituted by the State Governments as well as the Government of India (GoI), from time to time, such as the All India Prison Reforms Committee (1980) under the Chairmanship of Justice A.N. Mulla (Retd.), R.K. Kapoor Committee (1986) and Justice Krishna Iyer Committee (1987) to study and make suggestions for improving the prison conditions and administration, inter alia, with a view to making them more conducive to the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners. These committees made a number of recommendations to improve the conditions of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel all over the country. In its judgments on various aspects of prison administration, the Supreme Court of India has laid down three broad principles regarding imprisonment and custody. Firstly, a person in prison does not become a non-person; secondly, a person in prison is entitled to all human rights within the limitations of imprisonment; and, lastly there is no justification for aggravating the suffering already inherent in the process of incarceration (From NIMHANS prison strategy)