human rights

JUDGEs Responsible for Safety of Jail Inmates

S.O.S   e – Voice For Justice – e-news weekly
Spreading the light of humanity freedom

Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.10..Issue.49….….06/12/2014

 

 

Editorial : Safety of Jail Inmates Responsibility of Judges

The presiding judge of the case  who  issues arrest warrant against a person , who rejects the bail plea  of the accused  and  the judge who remands accused to police custody / judicial custody  is fully responsible for safety , human rights of the prison / jail inmates. Use of 3rd degree torture is rampant in jails   and in all such cases ,  respective presiding judges  must be made to  pay compensation from their pockets and judges must be charged  for  AIDING & ABETTING  THE MURDER  ATTEMPT  on prisoner  by  jail / police authorities.  Are the JUDGES & POLICE above Law ?

Criminal justice system victimises poor and vulnerable: CJI

New Delhi: The criminal justice system largely victimises the poor and vulnerable sections of society and there is an urgent need for reform on multiple fronts, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said today as he called for the scrapping of laws which criminalise begging and sex work.

“Not only does the criminal justice system largely victimise the poor and vulnerable sections of society, very often, laws themselves criminalise poverty and destitution,” Dattu said on the occasion of Law Day function on the Supreme Court lawns.

“In India, laws criminalising beggary, sex work and certain occupations of the tribal community are often largely seen by the scholars and human rights activists as widening the net of criminality by punishing destitution.

“Along with legal aid, there must be an intense process to redo the acts that are criminalised towards decriminalisation of acts that has a disproportionate impact on the poor,” he said at the function where Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, too, was present.

On the issue of protection of women against sexual violence, Dattu said, “We seem to be having a growing affinity for ensuring physical safety of women by curbing their freedom.

“As far as I am concerned, I would like to emphatically state in no uncertain terms that the security of women is not achieved by curbing their freedom and liberty and it is no security at all. We have to evolve some systematic reforms,” he said.

The Law Minister, who spoke before the Chief Justice, dwelt upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ project, saying that the country is being converted into a major global player through the creation of a business- friendly environment.

Efforts should be undertaken to make India an international arbitration hub, he added.

He said, “The government is pushing the concept of ‘Make in India’ and converting the country into a major global player, for which we need to have a business-friendly environment.

Fifty-four Years In Jail Without Trial: The Plight Of Prison Inmates In India

By Parwini Zora

26 August 2005
World Socialist Web

Machang Lalung, aged 77, was released from incarceration last month in the northeast Indian state of Assam after spending more than half a century behind bars awaiting trial.

Lalung had been arrested at his home village of Silsang in 1951 under section 326 of the Indian Penal Code for “causing grievous harm.” According to civil rights groups who have investigated Lalung’s case, there was no substantive evidence to support the charge against him. In any event, those found guilty of this offence typically receive sentences of no more than 10 years’ imprisonment.

Less than a year after he was taken into custody, Lalung was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in the Assamese town of Tezpur. Sixteen years later, in 1967, doctors confirmed that he was “fully fit” to be released, but instead he was transferred to Guwahati Central Jail, where he was imprisoned until this summer.

“It seems the police just forgot about him thereafter,” Assamese human rights activist Sanjay Borbora told the BBC. Borbora was among those who brought Machang’s case to the attention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). As a result of the Commission’s intervention and other protests, Lalung’s case was finally heard and he was released after paying a token bond of one Indian rupee.

“He is a simple villager and his life has been destroyed by a cruel system. He should sue the authorities for millions of rupees, but I do not think he is even aware he could do it,” said Borbora.

According to a Scotsman.com news report, the NHRC has taken up the cases of four other men awaiting trial in Assam: Khalilur Rehman has been in custody for 35 years, Anil Kumar Burman for 33 years, and Sonamani Deb for 32 years, while Parbati Mallik has been detained in a psychiatric unit for 32 years.

Though these individual cases have now gained media attention, the phenomenon of accused persons having to endure unconscionable delays awaiting trial is the norm in the Indian justice system. In 2002, some three quarters of all persons held in Indian prisons had not been sentenced to jail, but were “under trial”—that is, awaiting trial.

The largest number of under-trial or remand prisoners is to be found in the jails of Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, and Meghalaya, where more than 90 percent of the prison population have reportedly not faced trial.

According to a National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB) study, Crime in India 2002, nearly 220,000 cases took more than 3 years to reach court, and about 25,600 exhausted 10 years before they were completed. A staggering number of prison inmates awaiting trial have already been imprisoned longer than the most rigorous sentence that they could ever be given for the offence they are alleged to have committed.
A long record of appalling conditions

Many of India’s prisons date back to the era of British colonial rule, with thousands of prisoners kept in crumbling facilities largely unchanged since the beginning of the last century. The only major all-Indian prison reform ever implemented dates back to the Indian Jails Committee of 1919-1920.

The Indian prison system perpetuates many of the injustices of the penal system set up by the British. For example, inmates of foreign origin or of high caste and social status are routinely imprisoned under relatively better conditions and segregated from those inmates who are poorer and of lower social position. Larger or less-crowded cells, access to books and newspapers, and more and better food are offered to those prisoners classified as “Status A” prisoners.

Meanwhile, the poor and especially tribal and Dalit (ex-untouchable) inmates are subject to various forms of abuse, ranging from the denial of visitors and refusal to provide medical care, to prolonged labor, sexual harassment, rape and “concealed” physical and mental torture.

“Our judicial and penal system in its actual working obviously discriminates between the rich and the poor…. If you are poor and have once landed in jail—for whatever reason or no reason—the probability of your being back in jail off and on is fairly high,” concluded Raman Nanda, who complied a prison investigation in 1981, one of the few sources of information available about the Indian prison population.

“Most of those who are nabbed by the police and are unable to have themselves bailed out are the poor. Those with resources, the big criminals, the smugglers, corrupt politicians, tax evaders are people who are rarely caught. Thus our institutions penalise not the violators of law but the poor,” stated Nanda’s study.

In the 1980s, the All India Commission for Jail Reforms (The “Mulla” Committee) found that the majority of the prison population was from a “rural and agricultural background” and that first offenders involved in “technical or minor violations of law” accounted for a large number of prisoners. Many inmates are imprisoned for non-payment of fines or an inability to afford good legal representation.

Among the worst-affected groups are women with children and the mentally ill. Female prisoners account for 3.12 percent of the total jail population and are allowed to keep their children until they reach the age of five. According to available statistics, 1,400 children younger than five are accompanying their mothers in jails.

Last year, the Pakistan-based Dawn news site quoted Zahira, a mother of two and woman prisoner in the Trihar prison, as saying, “Our fate depends on the mood of the wardens or medical officer. I didn’t have regular check-ups during my pregnancy, which is against the rules. Irfan (her infant son) was not weighed at birth. There are no cribs, baby food or warm milk.”

The absence of adequate psychiatric institutions and medical services in India contributes to the large prison population. Individuals with severe mental illnesses, branded as “non-criminal lunatics,” are often imprisoned. With many mentally vulnerable prisoners left to suffer without support in a brutal environment, it is not surprising that there is a high rate of suicides of prison inmates and police detainees. However, there is also evidence that authorities term as suicides deaths that were caused by police and jail guard abuse.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was created as a statutory body in 1993 and has since periodically issued directions about jail conditions. It suggested a prison reform bill in 1996, but this has been ignored by various governments, including those led by the Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress and supported by the Left Front.

In fact, there is evidence that the situation facing India’s prisoners is getting worse. At the end of 2002, there were 322,357 inmates in the jails of 26 States and 6 Union Territories, although their authorised capacity was just 219,880, meaning there was overcrowding, according to the government’s own norms, of 46.6 percent.

The maximum overcrowding was recorded in the jails of Mizoram (442 percent), followed by Jharkhand (260 percent), Delhi (211 percent), Haryana (165 percent), Andaman and Nicobar (139 percent) and Chhatisgarh (115 percent). As compared to the previous year, it was noted that jail overcrowding had increased in the states of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

New Delhi’s Tihar Prison, also known as the “Central Jail,” is said to be the world’s largest prison facility. Although built to house 4,000 inmates, it currently holds 12,000, 80 percent of whom are awaiting trial.

Starting with the 1991 reforms, the Indian bourgeoisie has been imposing rigorous cuts in education, health care, social services and agricultural subsidies. The unprecedented social devastation and growth of inequality that has resulted from the policies of successive Indian governments have found partial expression in the country’s growing crime rate. The police have responded to this social crisis with frequent arbitrary round-ups in poor areas and discrimination against socially vulnerable sections of the working masses.
Rising number of custodial deaths and abuse

The police repression that has accompanied the past 14 years of free-market economic reforms has caused India’s already antiquated and overstretched prison system to descend into an even greater state of chaos and human misery. According to Indian Home Ministry records, deaths while in remand or custody increased from 1,340 in 2002 to 1,462 by the end of 2003. According to an NHRC report, a large proportion of the deaths in custody were from natural and easily curable causes aggravated by poor prison conditions. Tuberculosis caused many deaths, and HIV/AIDS remained a serious health threat among prison inmates.

Non-governmental organisations that deal with prisoner abuse allege that deaths in police custody, which occurred within hours or days of initial detention, often implied violent abuse and torture. The Home Ministry reported that there were 28,765 complaints lodged against police for April 2003 for abuse including deaths. In May of last year in Ambedkarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, police arrested a daily labourer and tortured him when he failed to pay a Rs. 50,000 (US$1000) bribe. According to media reports, police admitted the victim to the hospital under a false name after injecting him in the rectum with petrol.

Police also threatened to harm his family if he reported the incident. In July 2004, the NHRC requested a report from Punjab’s Inspector General of Prisons after a man incarcerated in Amritsar’s Central Jail claimed the Deputy Superintendent and other prison officials branded him on his back when he demanded water and better treatment. Doctors found fresh scars on his back that had been inflicted with hot iron rods. By year’s end, no action had been taken.

The rape of persons in custody is also part of the broader pattern of custodial abuse. Prisoner charities argue that rape by police, including custodial rape, was more common than NHRC figures indicate, since many rape incidents go unreported due to the victims’ shame and fear of retribution.

A statement from the Asian Legal Resource Centre, on custodial deaths and torture in India, handed to the National Human Rights Commission and to the Sixty-first Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, notes: “Any person, who dares to complain about police officers in India, faces the wrath of the law enforcement agency.

Abhijnan Basu, who was serving his prison sentence at the Presidency Jail, West Bengal, was one such person who was not so lucky. Officers at the prison murdered him because he dared to complain about the inhuman conditions and the poor quality of food. Three prison wardens set him ablaze on November 12, 2004.

“Torture in India is widespread, unaccounted for and rarely prosecuted. It contributes to the state of anarchy and lawlessness in many parts of the country. Torture is used as a cheap and easy method of investigation and also as a tool for oppression. In the hands of the wealthy and influential, Indian law enforcement agencies have also strengthened links with criminal elements. Even the judiciary in India cannot sever this nexus, between police and criminals.”

The state of India’s penal and justice systems speaks volumes about the true nature of human rights and social equality in a country routinely held up by the Western media as the “world’s largest democracy.”

Jails in India : An Investigation                                                                           

By Raman Nanda

(From PUCL Bulletin, Nov 1981)

See alos,
Case Study: Tihar, Delhi 
Case Study: Arrah, Bihar 
Case Study: Sakchi, Jamshedpur

 

Any discussion on prisoners in a sympathetic manner evokes a sharp response: “Why should you worry about these people? They are dangerous criminals, murderers and rapists, why complain if they are ill treated ? They deserve it.” In the popular mind, prisoners are dangerous criminals and hence deserve no mercy. No wonder the local population of Bhagalpur-and many outside-supported the Bhagalpur blinding.

The notion that prisoners are dangerous criminals assumes that our police is, in the first instance, able to nab the culprits- dacoits, murderers, black marketers, smugglers; that prosecution then does take place; that notwithstanding the delays, criminals are convicted-whether they are rich or poor.

Who are the people in jails ? Are they dangerous criminals, a threat to society ? Our investigations establish that a majority are either under-trials or those picked up for other reasons.

In Tihar Jail, in the capital of India, children are simply kidnapped from the streets and made to do all the menial work; the police who act in liaison with the jail staff do not pick up the rich people’s children. Those nabbed are the poor, without a home, who sleep on the pavements or in a public park. The criminal charge against them is vagrancy !

Kuldip Nayar, who spent some time in Tihar Jail during the Emergency, writes: “The slaves were boys between ten and eighteen, employed as ‘helpers’, and there were scores of them. They cooked, washed uten-sils, cleaned rooms, fetched water and did much back-breaking labour to ‘help’ those who were paid to do these chores.”

They would be woken up before six to prepare morning tea and would be allowed to sleep around 10 at night after scrubbing pots and pans. They were herded into a ward which had no sanitary facilities, but were always well lit all night to enable a sleepy warder to check at a glance if they were all there. The warder explained that whenever the number of prisoners in jails xvent up, the police were asked to bring boys to help with the chores.

One is inclined to believe that Delhi is not an excep-tion. For jails in many places are overcrowded and naturally the jail staff needs “helpers.” The slave system in varying degrees may well be prevalent in jails in other states.

Poverty, Vagrancy and Prostitution
About inmates in Hissar Jail, Primila Lewis has this to say : “Arrested on a charge of ‘awara gardi’ under the famous Section 169 of the Indian Penal Code for vagrancy, Piloo…. could not have been more than sixteen-years-old. She stayed with us a few weeks and then got out on bail provided for her by a constable in return for a spell with him as his mistress.

“This we learned was a routine occurrence. Single warders or policemen would offer to stand bail for these feckless young girls knowing that they were orphans and without help, in return for temporary or long term cohabitation.”

I was told of a similar instance from Khetri Jail, Rajasthan, where two jailers bailed out a woman and kept her for a week. In Central Jail, Jaipur, my friend heard a woman prisoner refusing bail arranged for her by another woman, a prisoner acting as a go-between, “I know why you want me out of jail.” The All Bengal Women’s Association report on women prisoners in Presidency Jail, Calcutta, in 1974 highlights similar incidents.

Then there is the story of Meena: “Meena had arri-ved (in Elissar Jail) in a fearful state, unable to walk, her rectum and vaginal area torn and bleeding, and raving like a lunatic. She had been kept in police custody for twenty-two days after her arrest and every day she had been raped by five or six policemen in succession. Practically deranged by this experience, she was then handed over to jail authorities. She screamed and sobbed and threatened to jump on the thanedar or sub-inspector just as he and his cohorts had ‘jumped.’ The sub-inspector of police shook his head sadly. ‘She is mad’, he. said, and the jail autho-rities asked no more questions.”

Meena’s crime-brought from a village in Nepal by a brahmin.. . .left alone… vagabond… She was sentenced to seven days simple imprisonment. So, that was her “simple imprisonment”. One may go on and on. The victims invariably are the poor.

Innocent?
And then there are the prisoners from Hazaribagh and Jamshedpur jails who Mary Tyler describes: “Nearest to the bars slept Bulkani, old, skinny and asthmatic, a retired colliery worker, in prison without trial for three years already, on a petty theft charge..”

She cites the case of 55-year-old Gulabi : “Together with four other labourers she had been harvesting paddy on a landlord’s field, unaware that the ownership of that particular land was disputed by his cousin who promptly had all the labourers, and the man who had employed them, arrested for stealing his paddy. Ironi-cally, the two landowners settled their quarrel and Gulabi’s employer was released from jail, while the labourers remained behind bars. Gulabi had been in prison for nearly three years.. . . without once seeing the magistrate.”

Mary Tyler goes on: “A child was brought into our care. Her father, a widowed coal miner, had gone on hunger strike outside the colliery manager’s office after being redundant. On the fifth day he had been arres-ted and since there was nobody to look after his three-year-old daughter, he had been obliged to bring her to jail with him.”

In the Women’s Reformatory, Jaipur, as on July 1, 1981, out of a total number of 40 convicts, nine were charged with murder and attempted suicide. Eight of them were fed up with life for various reasons (poverty, fight with in-laws).
Once is not Enough
If you are poor and have once landed in jail-for whatever reason or no reason-the probability of your being back in jail off and on is fairly high. This is the impression I gathered from my talk with some of the under-trials in Jaipur Central Jail. “When you are an undertrial and go to the court every fortnight, the people, policemen everybody watches you.. . . You are a ‘criminal’. You will be nabbed again as a suspect when-ever anything goes wrong in your locality. At the police lock-up you will be beaten (if you do not bribe them) to extort a ‘confession’.”

“These policemen,” another undertrial said with anger, “ask you to steal and demand their hafta (share). If you do not have the ill-gotten money, how will you give them? And if you don’t, they will throw you in jail. What does one do? Keep away from crime and land in jail? Or, do all the wrongs, give the dogs their share and be a free man outside?”

Often when an undertrial is to be released, the jail authorities hold him and ring up all the police stations if they “need” him There is many an instance of a prisoner released by court and re-arrested at the jail gate itself on some other charge. These tactics have been used consistently against the political acti-vists of all hues in general and the so-called Naxalites in particular.

While some are physically prevented by the police from going to the court, others-and there are reports to this effect-by sheer poverty may not be able to get money to meet the travelling and bail expense. Absence in court…, warrants issued… . back to jail.

The reader might well ask, “You are trying to appeal to our emotions.”

Well, yes, for why should one look at things in an emotionless manner ? Figures, however convincing- and I shall cite statistics as also official statements— tend to hide the intense human misery.

According to the 78th report of the Law Commission as on April 1, 1977, of a total prison population of 1,84,169, as many as 1,01,083 (roughly 55%) were under-trials. For specific jails, some other reports show: Secunderabad Central Jail- 80 per cent under-trials; Surat-78 per cent under-trials; Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya-66 per cent under-trials.

Most under-trials are for petty offences (charges whose veracity itself is quite questionable with the police trying to make a quick-rupee through display of their uniform and ‘danda’). Some are charged with murder. In Sikar Jail, for example, there were cases where as many as nine under-trials were charged with one murder. Some of them were not even in the area of the crime. The records also show that children of eight years are charged with murder. For instance, in Rajasthan, for which I have detailed figures, for the four years 1975.79, of the total convicted prisoners every year, over 65 per cent of the convicts had been sentenced to less than a year. Less than 10 per cent of the convicts were sentenced to over ten years impri-sonment. And as K.F. Rustomji, former Inspector General of Police and former member of the Police Commission, writes : “The number of criminal repeaters in India is rather small. The number of dangerous criminals-psychopathic killers, murderers, professional robbers, burglars and compulsive rapists-would be very few.”

A further point that hardly needs any statistical corroboration-most of those who are nabbed by the police and are unable to have themselves bailed out are the poor. Those with resources, the big criminals, the smugglers, corrupt politicians, tax evaders are people who are rarely caught. Thus our institutions penalise not the violators of law but the poor-crimes or no crimes.
Life Behind Bars
What are the conditions in jails? What is the effect of confinement on the human psyche, away from friends and relatives, persistently nagged by fears? Caught in his own complexes, with no one to console him, how does a prisoner live through his years in jail?

Food, Accommodation and Medical Treatment
Most of the jails were built in the nineteenth century or at the turn of this century. They are in a state of disrepair and are overcrowded. The Shah Comini-ssion reports that on the eve of the Emergency, in as many as 15 of the 27 States and Union Territories, the actual population of the prisoners far exceeded the authorised accommodation. In Assam there were 7909 prisoners in accommodation meant for 4,930; Bihar- 38,407 as against 21,140; Madhyn Pradesh-16,66 as against 12,388; Orissa-l0,222 as against 6,668; Maha-rashtra-19,786 as against 14,801; West Bengal-25,999 as against 20,237; Delhi 2,699 as against 1,273. And with the imposition of Emergency thousands more were added.

The food served to the prisoners is unfit for consu-mption. According to a report of Seraikela Jail in Bihar in Economic and Political Weekly, July 1978, “Due to overcrowding, a number of prisoners have to spend the nights actually sitting up. The prisoners are invariably very poor people; but the food is so rotten that they find it revolting…..Quite often the prisoners are ordered to lap up the dal which overflows on to the floor. For vegetable the prisoners are fed with wild grass and roots…. A glass of water was found to have no less than one inch of mud at the bottom… . For 400 to 800 prisoners, there are just eight latrines. The prisoners therefore defecate at the drains. In winter, six of them have to huddle under one blanket. Tuber-cular prisoners sleep with the as yet un-diseased ones.”

Within a state, the situation may be different in different jails. For instance, in Rajasthan, satisfactory conditions prevail in Sikar Jail. The Jailor, a cons-cientious young man, has allowed the prisoners to form a panchayat which supervises the purchase and preparation of food. Not only are the prisoners satis-fied about the arrangement, they decided to donate one meal each to the flood affected victims in Rajasthan in July, 1981.

However, the situation was quite bad in Jaipur jail and worse still in Central Jail, Ajmer and sub-jail, Jhunjhunu. In Jhunjhunu, where there was incidentally no shortage of water, the jailor sanctioned half a bucket of water per week per person for washing and bathing. There was overcrowding, food was bad and inmates suffered from all sorts of skin diseases. If any one complained, he was beaten up. (Police firing in Samastipur Jail in January 1981, on prisoners protesting against bad food is just one example. In Ajmer Jail, Rajasthan, on the basis of a secret letter from prisoners, the ADM, Ajmer, conducted a surprise raid in the jail in December, 1980, and found 83 quintals of wheat buried in the jail compound. He also sealed the sand over which in des-peration, the jail authorities had dumped edible oil. The prisoners went on hunger strike. The DIG, Prisons. Rajasthan assured prisoners of an inquiry. The result? The prisoners who had pointed out the misdeeds have been transferred to different jails in Rajasthan. One of them was beaten so much that his arm has been fractured.)
Medical facilities-however meager-are available only in some central jails in each state. In district and sub-jails, (asterisk) a compounder or some registered medical practitioner is supposed to visit at regular intervals; the visits never materialize.

“Natural” Deaths
No wonder then that many prisoners die a “natural death” due to diseases which are otherwise minor and curable. In Seraikela Jail which has a capa-city of 82 and which was being used to keep 400 to 800 prisoners, “143 prisoners, mostly adivasi under-trials died between 1973 and 1975”. Bhabani Shanker Hoota, a political activist, who spend some time in Rourkela Special Jail, Orissa, during Emergency, tells us of two doaths in judicial custody “due to the combined negli-gence of hospital and jail staff.” Similar are the comp-laints from Central Jail, Jaipur. Here I came across, among other serious cases, a undertrial, a man of 22, who was sent from Karoli to Central Jail, Jaipur “for treatment”. His right arm was fractured. Not only was the bone exposed, but about an inch of it was jutting out. And what was worse, he had been in that state for over 20 days when I met him. He had been going to the jail doctor everyday and the doctor dutifully applied a yellow medicine and bandaged it. Why was he not sent to the city hospital ? “No police guard to accompany him to the hospital,” was the reply. (However, three days after my visit he was sent to the hospital and was operated upon.) In Karnataka, Snehlata Reddy, a serious chronic asthma patient, was denied proper medical treatment. She was refused parole in spite of the doctor’s recommendation and died with-in a week of her release.
Divide and Rule
Jails, overcrowded with prisoners and commonly understaffed, are run on the policy of ‘divide and rule’. The Jail Manual provides that from amongst the con-victs the authorities shall appoint “convict officers” (COs). They are supposed to be some sort of prefects for the inmates, but actually are the extra-institutional force of the jail authorities. The Convict Officer is a prized position, for it entitles a remission in jail sentence. These prisoners obtain better food from the mess and sometimes the “sick diet” (milk, fruit, eggs).

As a research student, when I said that I wanted to meet the prisoners in Central Jail, Jaipur, the authori-ties would call for these C.Os. I realised that they were viewed with hostility by the ordinary prisoners. These C.Os. told me that “there are no problems in the jail.. food is good. . medicines are available to sick.. Monday parades are held regularly”.

Ordinary prisoners had a different story to tell, of course out of hearing of C.O.s who would invariable try to hang on when an outsider interviewed the prisoner.

On the weekly parades, which are held once in a month or two, the C.O.s accompany the Superinten-dent along with the Jailor and Warders. The Superin-tendent always moves into the wards with a massive force. If anyone complains, the C.O.s beat up the prisoners at his behest. The disobedient prisoners, those who ‘instigate’ the others, are handled by C.O.s and the jail staff together. “Those who demand better conditions and are rather persistent, are taken to the drama hall-meant for recreational and cultu-ral activities-tied to the pillar and beaten up by these people”.

The substantial portion of the “income” of the jail authorities is obtained through the C.O.s who are in direct touch with the ordinary prisoners. They charge the prisoners for putting in a word to the authorities for getting them remission in jail sentence or allowing the prisoner to have “illegal” articles in the jail (ghee, charas, or hasheesh). Often the promotion of a prisoner from an ordinary convict to convict night watchman or convict officer is through bribing the jail authorities. Most prisoners live in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Though suffering is common to all, one does not see a sense of unity among them.

Loneliness and Frustration
Theirs is a closed existence; visits from friends and relatives are few and far between for most prisoners. Many of them have not had a visit for years together. Poor as their friends and relatives are, they find it difficult to bear the transportation expenses to visit their kith and kin in jail. Further, they are made to wait for hours at the jail gate; in many jails the gate-keeper asks for a bribe.

Then there are sexual perversions of all sorts. Homosexuality is widely prevalent. The jail authori-ties turn a blind eye to this. When a young boy enters, the prisoners have been known to have bid a price for the boy. The price offered is in terms of ‘bidis’, soap or charas. Often prisoners have been divided into camps and the groups have fought each other on the issue of who shall have the new entrant.

Gross Discrimination
The stories of the comforts and favours given to some of the alleged criminals, like Charles Sobhraj are well known. Santosh Rana writes about Presidency Jail, Calcutta, during the Emergency: “Some smugglers were there. They never ate jail food. Food reached them from their houses everyday. Some had the privilege of going out to their houses at night and coming back in the early morning”. And you do not have to be a smuggler or a kingpin to enjoy extra benefits. In Delhi jail, as those who have been there will tell you, you could have whatever food you wanted, only by paying a higher price. In Jaipur Jail, some prisoners from well-to-do families and undergoing life sentence have no problems in going out. On the pretext of going out to the city hospital “for treatment” they go to their homes with or without the police guard, returning to the jail gate by evening.

While these people get police escort “to go to hospital”, those who are genuinely sick and in need of treatment but resource-less are, usually not sent to the hospital. The plea of the jail authorities- “The police does not send us the guards”.

What is worse is that even the law of the land allows for discriminatory treatment. Some states classify prisoners as being in ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ class on the basis of their income or social status. The Shah Commission Report shows that even amongst MISA detenus, there was discriminatory treatment in almost all states.

I shall quote from the Shah Commission Report the part which deals with MISA detainees in Gujarat which holds for other states too with some variations. “The detaining authorities were autho-rised to classify the prisoners according to their discretion. However in April 1976, the Government issued certain guidelines treating Members of Parlia-ment, Members of Legislative Assembly, Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chairman of Committees or Corpo-ration/President and Vice-President/Chairman of Committee of District and Taluka Panchayat as Class I prisoners. As a result of the petition filed by some of the detainees, the Government gave an assurance to the- High Court to examine the case of each detainee separately and further clarified on October 26, 1976 that engineers, doctors, lawyers and persons paying income tax over a period of 10 years of not less than Rs. 5000 a year, who had been detained for political activities and Presidents of Municipalities, would be given Class I status. Businessmen paying income tax of not less than Rs. 5000 a year were also given Class I status..

The treatment meted out to those arrested in the late 1960s and early 1970’s under the pretext of their being “Naxalites” breaks even those standards set by jail authorities themselves. Thousands still lang-uish in prisons without trial. After intensive efforts by civil liberties groups and many petitions to the Supreme Court some have been released in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. We just need to mention one ex-ample, that of Nagbhushan Patnaik, to exemplify the physical and mental deterioration that is the result of the brutal administration treatment in our jails.

Our judicial and penal system in its actual working obviously discriminates between the rich and the poor. In this scheme of thing what can be the case for prison reform?

Reforming the Reformatories
Let us outline some of the contours of the problem:

  • Imprisonment of an overwhelming number of under-trials-many of them being held in custody for long periods.
  • Lack of accommodation-overcrowding, bad food and an almost complete absence of medical faci-lities.
  • While hardened criminals are very few, severe restrictions are placed on almost all prisoners. The whole approach is retributive rather than reformative.
  • Prisoners demanding better treatment for them-selves have received lathis and bullets.
  • Rampant corruption in jail administration. One must note that the wage scale of the jail staff is also very low.
  • Lack of resources for jail administration, as one can infer from the low allocation for jails in the state and Central budgets.
  • Not all violators of law are penalised: it is the poor and quite often the innocent who are victi-mised.
  • The prisoners are denied “natural habitat” which we try to provide even to the animals we cage in our zoos. This coupled with the hopeless condi-tions in jails affects them irreversibly.

Some Suggestions
First,
 since on the one hand, we are confronted with imprisoning large numbers of under-trials, and on the other there is serious overcrowding, why not release the under-trials who have been in jail for long periods?

Many would ask: “Courts take a long time to decide and we cannot afford to release the murderers and potential criminals”. As already mentioned many of them are not criminals. We need only to recall that following Supreme Court orders, the Bihar Government in 1979 released about 27,000 under-trials and there was no noticeable increase in crime.

Secondly, our prison environments are unnatural and inhuman. Along with other aspects of prison life, this leads to serious psychological disorders and even insanity. The conditions, in fact, “mature” petty thieves into hardened criminals. The “habitat” the prison must be changed. One possibility is the open camp system.

The open camp experiment is. being successfully carried out in Rajasthan. In Sampurnanand Open Camp, Sanganer, 50 to 60 convicts -all murderers- live with their families. There are no boundary walls, no fences with only four policemen as guards. The convicts are free to pursue any vocation they choose. I met one ‘prisoner” at a tea stall-which is run by him; another one was working on a government farm and also doing his own farming on one acre piece of land from the government; yet another, a registered medical practitioner had set up a clinic in the town. The prisoners who are eligible for the open camp must have completed 1/3 of their sentence in what can be described as the closed jail.

“The open camp”, says the Inspector General of Police, Rajasthan, “does not cost us much. We have constructed the houses. We have given them some land. They earn their own living. And what is the best thing about the camp is that there has hardly been any instance of escape in the past five years. I may add that to be chosen for open camp, prisoners have to sometimes bribe their way through. The idea in itself is very good, is workable and should be extended all over.”

Thirdly, there is no internal mechanism to check the functioning of the jails today, which remain oppressive and cruel. Suggestions like employing jail staff of high character, or the strict implementation of the jail manual do not work. One section that can doggedly keep a close watch on the prisoners’ plight and make efforts to right the wrongs is the prisoners themselves. They must have the right to assemble and organise into panchayats. Their representatives must be involved in decisions regarding food and maintenance.

Fourthly, the supervision of the administration by the prisoners can be effective only when the rights of prisoners are spelt out. The eight jail manuals that I could collect-all of them, based on the Prisons’ Act, 1894-contained detailed instructions on petty things like the width of the belt to be worn by the staff, the number of holes per square inch on the gauge to seive flour but there was not a single chapter on the rights of the prisoners. While there is a need for a jail manual incorporating reformative approach as against the old manual drafted by colonial rulers primarily with a view to punish and suppress political activities, particular attention should be given to clearly defining the rights of prisoners. These rights must be enforceable in courts.

Fifthly, if the rights of prisoners, as proposed, are to be implemented, provisions must be made so that the jail staff do not violate them. These can be checked by the prisoners only if they have the right to communicate such instances to the judiciary and civil liberties groups freely and fearlessly. The prisoners must, therefore, have the right to mail out letters without any censorship by the jail authorities. Systematic efforts to involve the public and raise their awareness on these issues mtist be made simultaneously.

And lastly, what needs urgent attention and action is the question of bias in the operation of our police, judiciary and judicial custody against the underprivileged and poor. Notwithstanding any amount of prison reform, this bias will continue as long as there is gross inequality and discrimination.

 

Corporal Punishment in India’s Jails

By SAHRDC

Whilst it is well recorded that police systematically use torture as a tool of interrogation in India, the practice of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment as a form of summary punishment against prisoners is less well known and rarely publicised. Reports received by the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) indicate that this practice is particularly widespread in Jammu and Kashmir. Whilst the use of “excessive chastisement ordered as punishment for a crime” is prohibited under international law and is widely condemned in most States as constituting “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”, in India it is not only legislatively upheld, but actively used as a first resort of punishment for misconduct in India’s prisons. 

Corporal Punishment in Prison: The Indian position 

The prison system in India is governed by the colonial Prisons Act 1894 and the Prisoners Act 1900. The Supreme Court of India has however expanded the horizons of prisoner’s rights jurisprudence through a series of judgments.  

The Prisons Act 1894 provides for corporal punishment in cases where a prison offence has been committed. As per Section 46 Clause 12 of the Act, the Jail Superintendent may examine a prisoner committing such offence and punish him by whipping him/her not more than 30 times, among other alternatives, as provided in the Act. 

The Act leaves the awarding of such punishment to the discretion of the Jail Superintendent. Acts like “wilful disobedience” of prison regulations, use of threatening or intimidating language, “immoral or indecent” behaviour, and “feigning illness”, among others, constitute a prison offence under the Act. However, the Act does not provide as to how these offences are to be examined and whether “due process” will be followed in such cases. 

Section 38 of the Delhi Jail Manual specifically grants the Jail Superintendent the power to deal with prison offences or other offences under the Indian Penal Code himself/herself, or to move a Magistrate.  

In the case of Danial H. Walcott v. Superintendent, Nagpur Central Prison, the petitioner was punished with solitary confinement by the prison authorities for the commission of a prison offence. The Bombay High Court interpreted Section 46 of the Prisons Act 1894 and observed that the principles of natural justice are to be adhered to by the Superintendent in such cases. The Superintendent must “examine” the prisoner himself/herself and not rely on a readymade statement. The enquiry is quasi judicial in nature and includes the right of the prisoner to be heard, to be fully informed and to cross-examine. The Superintendent must pass a reasoned order after following this quasi-judicial process.  

In the case of Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, the petitioner, a convict under a death sentence, challenged his punishment of solitary confinement as provided under Section 30(2) of the Prisons Act 1894. The petitioner contended that Section 56 of the Prisons Act, which confers arbitrary powers on the Superintendent to confine a prisoner in irons, violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. 

While the apex court upheld Section 30(2) and Section 56 of the Act, the Bench concurred with the observations of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, which clearly serve as the touchstone of prison reforms in India. The Bench emphasised the need for “reorientation of the outlook towards prisoners” and prison reforms. It observed, “Jail Manuals are largely a hangover of the past, still retailing anachronistic provisions like whipping and the ban on the use of the Gandhi cap. Barbaric treatment of a prisoner from the point of view of his rehabilitation and acceptance and retention in the mainstream of social life, becomes counterproductive in the long run.” 

In the case of Rama Murthy v. State of Karnataka in 1997, the Supreme Court pointed to the need for a fresh look at the Indian Prisons Act and stressed on the need for an All India Jail Manual to serve as a model for the entire country. 

The All India Committee on Jail Reforms (1980-83), headed by Justice A.N. Mulla, studied the issue of treatment of prisoners and observed that “if prisoners are treated humanely according to set rules and are provided with incentives for showing good conduct and discipline, the need for enforcing prison discipline through prison punishments shall reduce.”  

The Committee also recommended that prison offences be more clearly defined. It further observed, “some of the prison punishments as prescribed by Section 46 of the Prisons Act 1894 were not in conformity with standards of humanitarian treatment of offenders and should be abolished, for example corporal punishment in the form of whipping.”  

The Committee also questioned the nature of hearings conducted by the Jail Superintendent. It recommended that the complaints process be modified to allow the prisoner a proper opportunity to defend himself/herself, and that there be a right to appeal to the Inspector General of Prisons. 

To date, none of these and other useful recommendations have been implemented. 

Following the Jail Reforms Committee report, in 1996 the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) circulated “An Outline of the Indian Prison Bill -1996” to all states and Union Territories in India, incorporating the core provisions of the Jail Reform Committee’s recommendations. However, its transferral by the NHRC to the Home Ministry for circulation raised the ire of the majority of states as it did not account for the fact that prison regulation is a state subject and thus cannot be dictated by the Central Government. This was an elementary mistake on the part of the NHRC, and served to severely undermine its credibility. 

International standards on the treatment of prisoners 

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) remains the core international treaty on the protection of the rights of prisoners. India ratified the Covenant in 1979 and is bound to incorporate its provisions into domestic law and state practice. The central provisions relating to corporal punishment and the rights are prisoners are found in Articles 7 and 10(2).   

Article 7 provides that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Concurrently, Article 10(2) of the ICCPR provides that “[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” In its general comment on Article 7, the United Nations Human Rights Committee stipulated that there is no definition of the concepts of Article 7 but that distinctions depend on the nature, purpose and severity of the treatment applied, that “the text of article 7 allows of no limitation”, and that “the prohibition must extend to corporal punishment, including excessive chastisement ordered as punishment for a crime…” This includes “prolonged solitary confinement of the detained or imprisoned person [which] may amount to acts prohibited by article 7”.  

In its concluding observations of state reports and under its communications procedure, the UN Human Rights Committee has found that various acts of corporal punishment inflicted on prisoners and detainees amount to violations under Articles 7 and 10. The majority of these are still routinely practiced in India. These include the whipping or flogging of prisoners; use of solitary confinement for lengthy periods as a disciplinary measure; using methods of restraint such as shackles; and holding prisoners on “death row” for extended periods, inducing mental anguish. 

In the case of Patterson Matthews v. Trinidad and Tobago (1998), the Human Rights Committee requested that the State forward information regarding whether the administering of 20 lashes was sanctioned by law. In India, as mentioned, Section 46 Clause 12 of the Prisons Act allows the Jail Superintendent to punish any prisoner by whipping him/her not more than 30 times, among other alternatives. This is a clear violation of Articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR.  

The legal obligations imposed on India are supplemented by three sets of UN guidelines on the treatment of prisoners. The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, expressly provide that: “corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences.” The Rules also state that “no prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. The competent authority shall conduct a thorough examination of the case.” 

Principle 6 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment prohibit the use of torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on any person under detention or imprisonment and no circumstances may be invoked as a justification for such treatment. A detained or imprisoned person or his counsel shall have the right to make a request or complaint regarding his treatment, in particular in case of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, to the authorities responsible for the administration of the place of detention and to higher authorities and, when necessary, to appropriate authorities vested with reviewing or remedial powers. 

The Prisons Act 1894 and the respective state jail manuals require immediate amendment so as to ensure that Jail Superintendents follow fair and just procedure while determining punishment for a prison offence. Secondly, the provision for corporal punishment should be done away with to ensure that such law is in conformity with international standards on the treatment of prisoners.

 VVIP MURDERER  VVIP FACILITIES IN PRISON

TIMES NOW’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami debates the issue of who is letting Vikas Yadav, the politician’s son, get a royal treatment, the victim’s mother saying that it is complete abuse of law with Neelam Katara, Nitish Katara’s mother; Sumit Verma, Counsel of Vikas Yadav; Dushyant Dave, Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court and D P Yadav, father of Vikas Yadav.

Nitish Katara’s killer Vikas Yadav has been allowed out of jail 66 times in 19 months. The VVIP prisoner has once again bent rules at will. Vikas Yadav, the man convicted for the murder of Nitish Katara, has found another way of bending rules for himself. As far as fellow convict and cousin of VIkas – Vishal Yadav is concerned – he has visited the hospital 19 times for treatment in the same period clearly proving how VVIP prisoners manage to get rules bent to their convenience.

An RTI application has revealed that Vikas Yadav has been out of Tihar jail as many as 66 times in less than two years after being sentenced to a life term.

As far as fellow convict and cousin of VIkas – Vishal Yadav is concerned – he has visited the hospital 19 times for treatment in the same period clearly proving how VVIP prisoners manage to get rules bent to their convenience.

While the victims mother Neelam Katara has equated his frequent outings as subversion of the criminal justice system, Tihar Jail authorities have denied granting any privilege to Vikas and said he was taken only on court orders.

DONS LAVISH LIFESTYLES IN INDIAN PRISON

 

Mumbai: Many underworld dons enjoy VIP treatment inside Mumbai’s high-security Arthur Road Jail even though they have been charged with many heinous crimes.

Underworld don Abu Salem is an accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts and was extradited from Portugal in 2005. Salem was a Dawood Ibrahim gamng member but later on turned enemy.

Mustafa Dossa is also an accused in 1993 Bombay blasts and was extradited from Dubai in 2003. He is a trusted Dawood aide too.

Both the dons, lodged in Mumbai’s high-security Arthur Road Jail, on Saturday got into a scuffle similar to ones seen several times in Hindi movies, which left Salem with gashes on his face.

Though both have been now shifted to separate jails, what has now come tumbling out of the jail’s closet are the shocking details of the lavish lives of underworld dons behind bars.

“I saw that they had new cloths in their cells and the bathrooms that they use have new tiles and are very clean. The toilets look just like it is in a good hotel,” says Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Ramesh Bagwe.

The details with CNN-IBN are far more shocking. Seated in a jail a don can just about get anything for a price 5-10 times the market rate. Some underworld dons possess three-four mobile phones with numerous SIM cards and Rs 10,000 is the minimum monthly maintenance cost per mobile phone and SIM cards are hidden inside the jail premises. Separate mobiles are used for talking to their bosses, subordinates and family.

A pack of cigarettes comes for Rs 200 and that of a bidi for Rs 25 while a toothpaste costing Rs 25 outside is available for Rs 300. Raw chicken is available for Rs 500. Some even cook their food on gas stoves inside the jail and a bottle of liquor is for Rs 2000. Contraband drugs like charas are available for Rs 1000.

Sources have told CNN-IBN us that while the underworld dons spend Rs 5-6 lakh a month to lead a lavish jail life, other petty criminals struggle to get even the basic facilities. While the smuggling of all the articles takes place during the night, the jail authorities say they are terribly under-staffed to curb these activities and the jails are over crowded.

Arthur Road Jail can hold upto 804 inmates but over 2100 inmates are lodged right now and the figure even touches 2400 at times. The total jail staff is a mere 250 when it should be at least 750

Due to the severe manpower crunch and corruption dreaded underworld dons can smuggle into the jail whatever they want and even manage their crime syndicate from right inside the jail. What’s even more alarming is that high-value convict involved in November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Ajmal Amir Kasab is also lodged in the Arthur Road Jail.

Five-star jails of India

In a raid on Meerut Jail led by the DIG of Agra Jail to recover and seize cell phones and other unauthorised and prohibited items, there was a fight between the jail police and inmates of the high-security prison. It left six police officials and four inmates injured.

The raiding DIG said, “It could not have happened without the connivance of jail officials. We had special instructions from the home department as Meerut Jail is known for its lawlessness. But we were shocked when a thou-sand-strong mob attacked us with sticks and stones. We were trapped and could only escape after we charged towards the gate.”

The prisoners snatched away all the mobile phones and contra-band recovered during the check that was ordered at the instance of the State Government. The DIG has accused the superintendent of Meerut Jail of “inciting the jail inmates to attack us so that we could not find prohibited articles in the jail”.

On the other hand, the jail superintendent has accused the DIG of demanding illegal gratification. Some staff has been suspended. The other form of corruption reported from the Meerut Jail included unauthorised sale of items at exorbitant prices. Cigarettes were being sold for Rs 20 per stick. It cost Rs 500 for a meal of choice. A local call could be made for Rs 20, an STD call cost Rs 100. The Meerut Jail, built to house 700 inmates, now has 1,850 prisoners.

A former Uttar Pradesh Minister, serving his sentence in Lucknow Jail for the murder of his mistress Madhumita Shukla, freely hosted a wedding anniversary bash for a co-accused in the murder case inside the jail premises. A sitting Minister when asked replied, “No one is born a criminal and the Samajwadi Party believes in transformation of criminals. You can’t stop anyone from celebrating an occasion concerning him, his family or near and dear ones – within the premises of the jail. As per my knowledge, there was no violation of the jail manual.”

In 2004, three accused involved in the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh escaped scandalously from the Burail Jail in Chandigarh. Inspection of the jail showed that the high profile prisoners were not only leading a luxurious life, but they had also enclosed their cells in a way that their activities inside could not be kept under vigil. Once the cell was turned into a virtual fortress, the prisoners dug a tunnel to escape.

The escape of terrorists involved in one of the most high-profile assassinations could not have materialised simply through a nexus between corrupt jail staffers and the prisoners. Vast sums of money as well as a pattern of internal and external intimidation was necessary to create the conditions for the eventual breakout and a significant network of support was essential to make sure that the fugitives could evade the police system once they were out.

The escape of Phoolan Devi’s killers from high security Tihar Jail and other similar escapes of prisoners highlight the ineptitude and complicity of jail staff. Tihar Jail is actually a complex of seven prisons, having a capacity of 4,000 prisoners. But actually there are more than 12,000 prisoners lodged there. Regrettably, there is no fixed rule as to how many prisoners can be lodged in a particular jail.

The following is the existing jail system. There are two categories of jails – district jails normally built for 400 prisoners each and central jails for 750 each. The jail staff members are not from the police and have their own distinct hierarchy. There are different categories of under-trial prisoners depending upon their education and social status. Courts have directed jails to do away with the colonial, vintage classification of under-trial prisoners into Class I, II and III, based on their socio-economic status, but Government continues to stick to the old practice.

Selected prisoners are used for the internal management of jails – to make up for manpower shortage – as well as administrative work. The convict- supervisors become a link between the prisoners and jail officials. They are given an incentive for their work. Any wrong placement or selection can lead to the escape of prisoners or other crimes going unchecked inside the jails.

The Indira Gandhi Government had set up a high-powered panel in 1980 to propose prison reforms. The apparent cause was Mrs Gandhi’s first-hand experience of the conditions in Tihar where she was lodged in 1978. Mrs Gandhi appointed the Justice AN Mulla Committee to review the national jail system even though jail is a State Government subject.

The Mulla Committee, 1983, recommended that the Constitution be amended to shift the subject of prisons from the State List to the Concurrent List. That never happened. The Centre at present has no say in the matter of jails except when they are in Union Territories where, again, jails are far from being models. The result is that jails continue to be governed by an outdated law enacted by the British in 1894. The position is that the jail conditions vary greatly from one State to another or even from prison to prison. There is no national policy on prisons.

A sensible recommendation of the Mulla Committee was to classify prisons into special security, maximum, medium and minimum security prisons. Such a classification can serve as a safeguard against jailbreaks and jail riots.

Much before sting operations became a norm with the media, a hard-hitting report had shown that in the Tihar Jail, officials mixed with notorious inmates like Charles Sobraj who ran an extensive drug and liquor racket with impunity. This led to a secret visit of the then Home Minister Giani Zail Singh to Tihar Jail. He was stunned to see a drunken prisoner offering him a bottle of liquor. A mortified Government finally suspended two jail officials.

Criminalisation of politics has produced a strange phenomenon. Criminals have contested elections from behind the bars and some of them have won. Given such topsy-turvy world of politics, prison officials are often either unmindful of the crimes being committed regularly inside the prisons, or sometimes they are the ones to provide prisoners with mobile phones, drugs and food. These jail staffers also organise kavi sammelans and mushairas and help prisoners run extortion rackets and criminal gangs from inside the jails. A prison for some prisoners has become a home away from home.

The next issue is that of under-trials. According to the statistics compiled by the Custodial Justice Cell of the National Human Rights Commission, 225,817 of 304,893 or 74.06 per cent of the total prison population in the country comprises those awaiting trial. The total jail capacity in India is 232,412 prisoners, which makes the total prison population 31 per cent higher than capacity, clearly emphasising the urgent need for a speedier justice mechanism.

Only when politicians go to jail do they talk about reforming the jail system. They forget the issue the moment they are out. We must be clear as to what kind of confinement or jail system we want. The time to make a beginning is now before things get worse. There must be a Central law to be followed as a model by all States.

No restrictions at Arthur Road jail, gangsters take leave at will

Pune: A highly confidential inquiry report by the Maharashtra prison department has revealed that several key undertrials, including Mohammad Dossa, underworld don-turned-politician Arun Gawli and DK Rao (the right-hand man of fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan), among others, freely availed of “leave” out of the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai over the last three years.

The jail authorities neither reported the leave granted to these high-profile undertrials to senior prison authorities, nor did they raise objections to the leave applications in court.

A senior prison officer told DNA that the inquiry report has been sent to the state home department for action as it has exposed corrupt practices at the jail.

Ironically, officials of the state prison department have none other than 26/11 accused Mohammed Ajmal Amir aka Kasab to thank for the revelation of this nexus between the prison authorities and the undertrials.

Sources told DNA that when the undertrials, including Rao and Gawli, were shifted to Taloja in Navi Mumbai, they started demanding similar treatment at the new jail premises. They were shifted to Taloja so that maximum protection could be provided to Kasab, who was to be lodged at the Arthur Road jail.

“The undertrials continued to demand leave at Taloja as they had at Arthur Road,” said an official, adding that the authorities at Taloja then reported the matter to senior prison authorities in Pune and Mumbai.

Former superintendent of Arthur Road jail Swati Sathe, who is currently posted in Nashik, said she was unaware of any inquiry.

It was during Sathe’s tenure that the “influential undertrials” availed of leave.
The inquiry revealed that leave extended from a few hours to even a couple of days.
It also found that this practice had been going on at the jail for nearly three years.

The authorities did not deny leave to around 45 gangsters, most of whom are booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999. One undertrial gangster was found to have “gone on leave” on 35 occasions, the report said.

The Maharashtra Prisons Manual has no provision to grant leave to undertrials, as is allowed in the case of convicts lodged in jails. It is customary for an undertrial to obtain permission from a court in order to avail leave.

The inquiry revealed that none of the 45 undertrials sent their applications via the jail officials. They were directly sent to court.

Significantly, the authorities at Arthur Road jail failed to appeal against this.

The jail authorities also failed to report the leave taken by the under-trials to the state government, which generally alerts the police machinery to keep a close watch on the activities of the suspects.

State prisons chief, inspector-general of police Uddhav Kamble confirmed to DNA the commissioning of the inquiry, but refused to elaborate. A senior official of the prison department confirmed the developments as well.

Another senior jail official explained that leave is only granted to an under-trial by the court for emergency situations, like the demise or serious health condition of the next-of-kin, besides attending the marriage of his/her children.

Leave can also be availed for emergency medical treatment at the private hospitals, but only under the supervision of the jail authorities. However the under-trials went on leave to attend marriages and death of distant relatives, other minor health issues of family members and even their companions.

Kamble sought a detailed record from the deputy inspector general of police (prisons), Mumbai, of all the leave awarded by the courts. The DIG, Mumbai conducted an inquiry and found the involvement of Arthur Road Jail officials. Another inquiry was commissioned to verify the findings of the DIG’s report.

In Pune, 22 inmates have been missing from the Yerawada Central Prison after they were granted parole or furlough in the past 30 years.

Mumbai-based gangster Vijay Thopte who was accused in the murder of union leader Datta Samant and Arun Gawli gang member Eknath Arjun Mohite of Bhosari are among those missing from the Yerawada jail. While Thopte has been missing after he was granted parole a year ago, Mohite, who has several cases registered against him with the Pune city and rural police units, has been missing for more than a year now.

Might Not Have Recommended Parole For Manu: Pilot

Disapproving the grant of parole to Jessica Lall murder convict Manu Sharma, who also happens to be the son of an influential Haryana Congress leader, Congress leader Sachin Pilot has said that he might not have recommended parole to the lifer had he been the chief minister of Delhi.

“I personally believe that perhaps more diligence should have been made before issuing these orders. The fact that he has already gone back (to jail) does not make a difference now,” Pilot said while participating in a TV programme.

Asked whether it was a mistake for the Delhi government to have recommended parole for Sharma, Pilot said, “Well I am not Delhi chief minister. From whatever I know of the case, if I was the chief minister I would probably not have given the parole”.

Sharma was granted parole after chief minister Sheila Dikshit recommended it. Sharma, who had applied for the parole on the ground of performing religious rites for his grandmother (who died in 2008), attending to his ailing — later modified to ‘ageing’ — mother, and business matters, in Chandigarh.

Significantly, the Delhi Police has gone on record to say that it had opposed the grant of parole. It has been reported that the Delhi government has so far received 132 parole applications this year out of which as many as 88 are still pending, 33 were rejected and  11 applicants were granted parole.

Dikshit had so far been under fire for justifying her decision, saying that it was within the “legal purview” only from the opposition BJP and legal luminaries, who had so far been protesting that it was a blatant case of partisanship. Not only was Manu Sharma granted parole on flimsy grounds, and his parole extended by another month on the recommendation by Dikshit, he clearly violated the parole conditions as well.

Opposition BJP points out that Manu Sharma’s father Venod Sharma, who is an influential Congress leader in Haryana, played a major role in ensuring that the Congress government in Haryana could be sworn. He is believed to have been instrumental in getting the support of not only the seven independents but also the defectors from Haryana Janhit Congress which now only has Kuldeep Bishnoi left because as many as five of his MLAs joined Congress on Monday.

Sachin Pilot is the first Congress leader who has gone on record to even mildly express disagreement over the issue.

Nobody would have known

What is even more significant is that the news of Jessica Lal murder convict — who is serving a life sentence for having shot dead the Delhi model on April 29, 1999 at the Tamarind Court Bar — being out on parole came to public notice only because he was yet again involved in a brawl in a nightclub.

Observers point out that the brawl on the night of November 6 at F bar in New Delhi’s Ashoka hotel that Manu Sharma and Sahil Dhingra got involved with Pranay Dadwal and his female friend may even have gone unreported or been hushed up had Delhi police commissioner’s own son not been involved in the case.

The argument turned ugly and Pranay Dadwal informed his father, who happens to be none other than Delhi Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal.

It was because of this that a jeepload of cops landed up at the bar.

By then Manu Sharma and his friends had left F bar and moved to the exclusive LAP bar in the adjacent Samrat hotel, which is owned by Mumbai film actor and model Arjun Rampal.

By the time the police reached LAP, Manu had escaped. The police picked up Dhingra, and it was only on going through the CCTV video coverage that it could be confirmed that the person accompanying Dhingra was none other than the high profile Manu Sharma who, most people assumed, should have been in jail.

It was only then that it came to light that he had not only been granted parole, it had even been extended, while he had been out there partying at various nightclubs and bars, not only in Chandigarh, where he was supposed to be for the period of his parole, but also in Delhi.

Observers also point out how thee is nothing new in the subversion of justice in Manu Sharma’s case, as the powers that be had almost ensured his acquittal in the Jessica Lal murder case, which got re-opened because of  an unprecedented media and public campaign.

Chained In Purgatory

It’s time we extirpated the horrific dehumanisation from our prisons

– R.K.Raghavan  ,  CBI Director

Ashutosh Asthana, the key accused in a fraud involving the judiciary, died a few days ago in a Ghaziabad (UP) prison. The bazaar rumour is that he died of poisoning. Whether he took the poison himself or was tricked into doing so will be known after the inquiry ordered comes to a conclusion. Two other incidents of past weeks were equally shocking. A murder accused sentenced to life  hanged himself in Coimbatore jail, and a software engineer locked up after a complaint of dowry harassment against him similarly ended his life. Finally, an Indian student detained in a US prison for sending intimidatory mail to President Bush, has complained of being roughed up by fellow prisoners. Life inside prisons is undoubtedly perilous. This may not be a new phenomenon, but the public now is more aware of what goes on inside prisons. As sensitive human beings, our conscience should lead us into doing something radical to reform our prisons, cure it of its present ills. As someone said, a nation will be judged by the manner in which it treats its prisoners. I would like to recall a national leader incarcerated during the Emergency telling me how soul-crushing detention could be. He was not surprised that many jailed along with him chose to plead for mercy and walked out at the earliest opportunity.

Prisons infuriate me for various reasons. Firstly, there are dubious arrests by the police and the even more galling convictions by courts on false cases, sometimes trumped up by the prosecution, and which end in innocent persons being sent to jail. The notion that many who should be in jails are outside, thanks to political and economic clout, is not wholly baseless. What, then, is the justification of locking up many who are guilty of minor infractions? Secondly, rampant overcrowding of prisons is a matter of disquiet, and of concern worldwide. States in the US keep on building new prisons, although demand quickly outstrips available space. Too many prisoners means abysmal and morally repugnant conditions. Most unjustly, the number of undertrials far exceeds convicted prisoners. Many of the former end up spending time that surpasses the maximum period for which they could be convicted under the law, if found guilty at all.

The corruption that afflicts prison management is of Himalayan proportions. This is first reflected in the quality of food served to inmates, and attributed to malpractices in the award of contracts to suppliers of grocery. When food is inedible, prisoners revolt. Some bribe guards into getting something better from outside. Smuggling in of drugs into prisons is not unusual. Detainees use cell phones freely. All these are for a price, and the rates vary from prison to prison. But these are lesser evils, if one reckons the violence that is routinely perpetrated—both by prison staff and fellow prisoners—on a few hapless prisoners who stand out from the rest for some reason, be it the nature of their crime or their efforts at good behaviour. Abusive prison guards just do not enjoy their work and are clearly frustrated at the stultifying work environment. Some thought has been devoted towards improving their conditions of service. Whatever has been done till now has not exactly improved their morale.

Of course, there are some remarkable individuals in the system who are trying to make a difference and have actually succeeded. The legendary Kiran Bedi made a world of difference to Tihar, one of the most notorious prisons in the world. A commendable focus on literacy and health issues altered the scene. Union home minister P. Chidambaram had a few good words to say about Tihar during his recent visit there.

I had the good fortune to go round the Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad recently. This is a historic jail, built in 1895, where the Mahatma, Lokamanya Tilak and Sardar Patel had all been detained. It is a clean place, although it is also overcrowded (nearly 4,000 inmates in a place meant for half that number). A young IPS officer, Chandrasekhar (an agriculture graduate from Coimbatore), and his equally enthusiastic IGP Keshav Kumar deserve every bit of praise we can shower them with for their devotion and care. Their latest innovation is in the area of telemedicine, with the support of the local Apollo Hospital. It has been a boon for prisoners needing expert medical opinion. Online examination of medical records and consultation with specialists for prisoners have the potential for saving many lives. How many in our political firmament understand that a prisoner’s life is as precious as theirs? As long as it is possible for the criminal justice system to make flagrant mistakes and lock up innocent people, we need to look after our prisoners with the utmost benevolence. Nothing else can act as testimonials of our urbanity and humanity, the two qualities that are in danger of becoming extinct.

SC lays down directives for police encounters

The Supreme Court on Tuesday laid down stringent guidelines for police encounters to prevent fake encounter killings by police.

The top court said every intelligence input about armed terrorist movement must be recorded in writing, without disclosing vital information, by the police party before proceeding to nab them.

If the encounter results in death of any one, the police must immediately register an FIR and furnish a copy to the court having jurisdiction over the area.

The apex court said investigation into encounter deaths would be carried out by a SP rank officer from a different police district and not the same police which conducted the raid resulting in encounter death.
The court ruled that no policeman involved in encounter death should be given out of turn promotion or gallantry awards by the government till the investigations establish that it was a genuine encounter.

The Supreme Court also ordered that police probing encounter killing should submit status of probe every six months to the state human rights body and NHRC.

Privileged prisoners

When the rich and the powerful get on the wrong side of the law, it’s the law that suffers the most. VIP offenders and convicts are often treated by law enforcers as VIPs and not as offenders or convicts. Security officials rolled out the red carpet for Jagir Kaur, former Minister in the Shiromani Akali Dal government in Punjab, following her conviction last week on charges of abduction and wrongful confinement of her daughter in 2000. Video footage from the Kapurthala jail captured the astonishing sight of officials rushing to touch the convict’s feet when she arrived at the prison complex ostensibly to serve out her term. Although Ms Kaur “resigned” as Minister immediately after her conviction, she appears to have lost none of the privileges that come with office. Twice president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the powerful body responsible for the administration of gurudwaras, Ms Kaur wields considerable clout within the current government headed by Parkash Singh Badal. Opposition members have already demanded that she be shifted to a jail outside Punjab so she gets a taste of prison life as it is lived by countless other convicts.

Of course, Ms Kaur is not the first person to receive comforts and favours inside a prison cell. Industrialists and politicians convicted for fraud and violent crime have always found ways to carry over their material advantages in the vast, outside world into the confines of a prison. In many cases, they abuse the legal provisions governing incarceration to evade the full rigour of the law. It has, for example, become the done thing for celebrity undertrials and convicts to feign chest pain and seek refuge in high-end hospitals which curiously seem able to delay diagnosing the illness for as long as the patient wants. Stories of well-heeled undertrials being lavished attention in prisons — the 2G accused being a case in point — are a legion. The other trick in the book is parole; the reason for the excursion can be anything, a parent’s illness, the death of a relative, or simply the need to reconnect with the city’s social circuit. Manu Sharma, convicted in the Jessica Lal murder case, famously spent the parole period granted him (originally 30 days but extended by a month) partying, helped in no small measure by his benefactors in the Delhi government. India’s criminal justice system is lax, and many literally get away with murder. For a select few convicted by a court of law, the journey from home to prison brings no ordeal that they cannot bear. When the prison cell door clanks shut behind them, the VIP inmates manage to force open a window to freedom. That’s the sad truth.

1000 unlawful police detention cases in India every year, UP and Delhi lead

India laps up movie fare such as Singham, but the reality of policing hits harder home than a Rs. 100-crore plus flick. Such bitter reality hit students of the Jadavpur University during the early hours of Wednesday.

The Kolkata Police entered the university, allegedly dragged and injured students including girls, and detained many as they raged against the alleged sexual assault on a student after a college fest.

The city’s police chief claims his officers exercised restraint. The students believe otherwise and want the police punished. The students believe the police action was yet another instance of abuse of power.

In India, reel-life Singhams win popularity contests, those in real are on shaky ground. Here is a look at statistics, which give an inside view.

“In many parts of india, the police is the only visible state presence. police say that there is pressure from the public to punish crimes. this leads to the police acting as judge and jury, beating up suspects who are presumed guilty without trial “ 
–  Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director, Human Rights watch

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/9/unlawful.jpg

Custodial violations include unlawful detention, illegal arrests, custodial deaths and torture. The numbers do not show the police in shining light.

Around 3,963 cases of unlawful detention were reported from 2011 till July this year. Of these cases, 3,069 have been disposed of and 894 are pending.

In the same period, 2,532 cases of illegal arrests were reported against the police —2,127 cases have been disposed of and 405 are pending.

Surprisingly, Delhi, a relatively small state, comes second in the number of illegal arrests, unlawful detention and tortures in police custody. Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, tops all the charts.

“The NHRC does not have enough investigative capacity. it often relies on the state human rights commissions, which are understaffed and ill equipped. often there are political appointments. to be effetive, these commissions should be truly independent”
–  Meenakshi Ganguly
The figures used in this story are reported cases and the actual number may be higher.

Moreover, custodial deaths can also be due to ill-health, suicides, accidents and homicides among other causes.

Interestingly, the system is swift while disposing of cases of illegal arrests and unlawful detention, with a disposal rate of 84% and 77%.

ND Pancholi, President, Delhi chapter of the Poeple’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) said, “There is no effort on the part of ruling parties to chart out police training which inculcates the feeling among police personnel that their prime responsibility is to the Constitution, rule of law and to the people”.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) takes note of these violations. In the period analysed, the NHRC filed 72 cases against illegal arrests and unlawful detention. It imposed a fine of Rs. 53 lakh. Disciplinary action was taken in 10 cases, but did not lead to any prosecutions.

The NHRC also filed around 242 cases against the police for deaths and torture. A fine of Rs. 6 crore was imposed on the police. Disciplinary action was taken in 13 cases. It led to just one prosecution.

Abuse by the police, however, is not solely an Indian problem. The US, a developed nation, has an average of 983 custodial deaths per year compared to 110 in India. China, on the other hand, is often under scrutiny over human rights.

A study by Amnesty International — more than 21,000 people in 21 countries participated in the survey — concluded that international rules against torture are implemented the least in India, along with Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru.

Interestingly, 74% respondents in India felt torture was justified to gain information.

MHA gives special treatment to convicted German drug kingpin

Once described as a kingpin of an international drug syndicate, a German national was given special treatment by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh clearing the repatriation of Christian Fell, who was convicted for possessing high quality drugs.  Fell, now  43, was lodged in Tihar Jail since 2008 after he was arrested by the Narcotics Branch of Delhi police the same year. Cops claimed it to be the first ever seizure of LSD, a party drug, in the Capital. He was convicted in 2011 under the NDPS Act for 10 years of imprisonment.

Earlier this year, the German embassy based on the request received through Fell’s family started negotiating with the Indian authorities whether Fell can serve his remaining tenure of imprisonment in Germany.  However, the UPA government kept the request pending but afterNarendra Modi took over in May this year, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) again received a reference following which the repatriation of Fell was processed by way of a Gazette Notification in May this year.

Using the provision of repatriation of Prisoners  Act, 2003, to Federal Republic of Germany, the  Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), helped Fell to be repatriated. Fell, who flew back to Germany, last week was given special clearance by DGCA on the request of the Home Ministry while the German Embassy made special arrangements for consular assistance at the Delhi Airport. According to the Home Ministry, Fell was supposed to spend the remaining numbers of years at a jail in Hamburg in Germany.

A senior Home Ministry official said, “He was convicted for 10 years out of which he had already spent 5 years in India. We considered his request on the humanitarian grounds where he will have to spend the rest of years at a German prison.  Fell was transferred from the high security Tihar jail in a police van armed with the commandoes of Delhi Armed Police (DAP) , to IGI. He was accompanied by two escort officers from Germany, Kurt Walter, an inspector and Jorg Dieter Konitzer, an employee in police service. The duo also facilitated the emergency travel documents for Fell which was issued by the German embassy”.

Fell who was described by the police as a rebel is believed to have come to India in 1998 after leaving his home at the age of 16.  At Tihar, he also taught music during his initial years of prison term but later reported to have developed mental disorder following which the doctors advised him extra care. As a teenager, Fell is also believed to have acted in some movies in Hamburg in Germany. During his stay in India, he visited Hampi, Goa, Kathmandu and other tourist destinations, but was finally nabbed from Paharganj.

Saradha scam: TMC leader royally treated in jail

Rajat Majumder, former director general of police and Trinamool Congress leader, who was arrested in connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam, is being given a royal treatment behind bars.

Just after stepping into Alipore central jail on September 19, Majumder was immediately taken to the jail hospital, where doctors reported him ‘sick’. “Normally, inmates are not kept in jail ward until critically ill,” said a senior officer of Alipore central jail.

“No inmate gets what Majumder is getting. He has tremendous clout and a section of officers are helping him. Jail hospital attendants and one of inmates are running errands 24 hours for him. This is apart from the comforts of jail hospital, with clean bed, special food. No inmate can get four to five newspapers, which he avails,” said a jail officer.

Majumder is given a choice breakfast of toast, eggs, honey, fruits and milk. His meals include preparations of fish, chicken or mutton of his choice, along with vegetables and daal.

Majumder was recently also allowed ‘close interview’ with some of his known ones in the officers room of Alipore jail, which sources say in uncommon for inmates. Majumder was a security consultant for Saradha group and president of some of its companies.

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

1. The following rules are not intended to describe in detail a model system of penal institutions. They seek only, on the basis of the general consensus of contemporary thought and the essential elements of the most adequate systems of today, to set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners and the management of institutions.

2. In view of the great variety of legal, social, economic and geographical conditions of the world, it is evident that not all of the rules are capable of application in all places and at all times. They should, however, serve to stimulate a constant endeavour to overcome practical difficulties in the way of their application, in the knowledge that they represent, as a whole, the minimum conditions which are accepted as suitable by the United Nations.

3. On the other hand, the rules cover a field in which thought is constantly developing. They are not intended to preclude experiment and practices, provided these are in harmony with the principles and seek to further the purposes which derive from the text of the rules as a whole. It will always be justifiable for the central prison administration to authorize departures from the rules in this spirit.

4. (1) Part I of the rules covers the general management of institutions, and is applicable to all categories of prisoners, criminal or civil, untried or convicted, including prisoners subject to “security measures” or corrective measures ordered by the judge.

(2) Part II contains rules applicable only to the special categories dealt with in each section. Nevertheless, the rules under section A, applicable to prisoners under sentence, shall be equally applicable to categories of prisoners dealt with in sections B, C and D, provided they do not conflict with the rules governing those categories and are for their benefit.

5. (1) The rules do not seek to regulate the management of institutions set aside for young persons such as Borstal institutions or correctional schools, but in general part I would be equally applicable in such institutions.

(2) The category of young prisoners should include at least all young persons who come within the jurisdiction of juvenile courts. As a rule, such young persons should not be sentenced to imprisonment.

Part I

RULES OF GENERAL APPLICATION

Basic principle

6. (1) The following rules shall be applied impartially. There shall be no discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

(2) On the other hand, it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.

Register

7. (1) In every place where persons are imprisoned there shall be kept a bound registration book with numbered pages in which shall be entered in respect of each prisoner received:

(a) Information concerning his identity;

(b) The reasons for his commitment and the authority therefor;

(c) The day and hour of his admission and release.

(2) No person shall be received in an institution without a valid commitment order of which the details shall have been previously entered in the register.

Separation of categories

8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment. Thus,

(a) Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate;

(b) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;

(c) Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence;

(d) Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.

Accommodation

9. (1) Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room.

(2) Where dormitories are used, they shall be occupied by prisoners carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions. There shall be regular supervision by night, in keeping with the nature of the institution.

10. All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.

11. In all places where prisoners are required to live or work,

(a) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation;

(b) Artificial light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.

12. The sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and decent manner.

13. Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a week in a temperate climate.

14. All parts of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times.

Personal hygiene

15. Prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.

16. In order that prisoners may maintain a good appearance compatible with their self-respect, facilities shall be provided for the proper care of the hair and beard, and men shall be enabled to shave regularly.

Clothing and bedding

17. (1) Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health. Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.

(2) All clothing shall be clean and kept in proper condition. Underclothing shall be changed and washed as often as necessary for the maintenance of hygiene.

(3) In exceptional circumstances, whenever a prisoner is removed outside the institution for an authorized purpose, he shall be allowed to wear his own clothing or other inconspicuous clothing.

18. If prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, arrangements shall be made on their admission to the institution to ensure that it shall be clean and fit for use.

19. Every prisoner shall, in accordance with local or national standards, be provided with a separate bed, and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness.

Food

20. (1) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.

(2) Drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.

Exercise and sport

21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.

(2) Young prisoners, and others of suitable age and physique, shall receive physical and recreational training during the period of exercise. To this end space, installations and equipment should be provided.

Medical services

22. (1) At every institution there shall be available the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry. The medical services should be organized in close relationship to the general health administration of the community or nation. They shall include a psychiatric service for the diagnosis and, in proper cases, the treatment of states of mental abnormality.

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

(3) The services of a qualified dental officer shall be available to every prisoner.

23. (1) In women’s institutions there shall be special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment. Arrangements shall be made wherever practicable for children to be born in a hospital outside the institution. If a child is born in prison, this fact shall not be mentioned in the birth certificate.

(2) Where nursing infants are allowed to remain in the institution with their mothers, provision shall be made for a nursery staffed by qualified persons, where the infants shall be placed when they are not in the care of their mothers.

24. The medical officer shall see and examine every prisoner as soon as possible after his admission and thereafter as necessary, with a view particularly to the discovery of physical or mental illness and the taking of all necessary measures; the segregation of prisoners suspected of infectious or contagious conditions; the noting of physical or mental defects which might hamper rehabilitation, and the determination of the physical capacity of every prisoner for work.

25. (1) The medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should daily see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed.

(2) The medical officer shall report to the director whenever he considers that a prisoner’s physical or mental health has been or will be injuriously affected by continued imprisonment or by any condition of imprisonment.

26. (1) The medical officer shall regularly inspect and advise the director upon:

(a) The quantity, quality, preparation and service of food;

(b) The hygiene and cleanliness of the institution and the prisoners;

(c) The sanitation, heating, lighting and ventilation of the institution;

(d) The suitability and cleanliness of the prisoners’ clothing and bedding;

(e) The observance of the rules concerning physical education and sports, in cases where there is no technical personnel in charge of these activities.

(2) The director shall take into consideration the reports and advice that the medical officer submits according to rules 25 (2) and 26 and, in case he concurs with the recommendations made, shall take immediate steps to give effect to those recommendations; if they are not within his competence or if he does not concur with them, he shall immediately submit his own report and the advice of the medical officer to higher authority.

Discipline and punishment

27. Discipline and order shall be maintained with firmness, but with no more restriction than is necessary for safe custody and well-ordered community life.

28. (1) No prisoner shall be employed, in the service of the institution, in any disciplinary capacity.

(2) This rule shall not, however, impede the proper functioning of systems based on self-government, under which specified social, educational or sports activities or responsibilities are entrusted, under supervision, to prisoners who are formed into groups for the purposes of treatment.

29. The following shall always be determined by the law or by the regulation of the competent administrative authority:

(a) Conduct constituting a disciplinary offence;

(b) The types and duration of punishment which may be inflicted;

(c) The authority competent to impose such punishment.

30. (1) No prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with the terms of such law or regulation, and never twice for the same offence.

(2) No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. The competent authority shall conduct a thorough examination of the case.

(3) Where necessary and practicable the prisoner shall be allowed to make his defence through an interpreter.

31. Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences.

32. (1) Punishment by close confinement or reduction of diet shall never be inflicted unless the medical officer has examined the prisoner and certified in writing that he is fit to sustain it.

(2) The same shall apply to any other punishment that may be prejudicial to the physical or mental health of a prisoner. In no case may such punishment be contrary to or depart from the principle stated in rule 31.

(3) The medical officer shall visit daily prisoners undergoing such punishments and shall advise the director if he considers the termination or alteration of the punishment necessary on grounds of physical or mental health.

Instruments of restraint

33. Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and strait-jackets, shall never be applied as a punishment. Furthermore, chains or irons shall not be used as restraints. Other instruments of restraint shall not be used except in the following circumstances:

(a) As a precaution against escape during a transfer, provided that they shall be removed when the prisoner appears before a judicial or administrative authority;

(b) On medical grounds by direction of the medical officer;

(c) By order of the director, if other methods of control fail, in order to prevent a prisoner from injuring himself or others or from damaging property; in such instances the director shall at once consult the medical officer and report to the higher administrative authority.

34. The patterns and manner of use of instruments of restraint shall be decided by the central prison administration. Such instruments must not be applied for any longer time than is strictly necessary.

Information to and complaints by prisoners

35. (1) Every prisoner on admission shall be provided with written information about the regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of his category, the disciplinary requirements of the institution, the authorized methods of seeking information and making complaints, and all such other matters as are necessary to enable him to understand both his rights and his obligations and to adapt himself to the life of the institution.

(2) If a prisoner is illiterate, the aforesaid information shall be conveyed to him orally.

36. (1) Every prisoner shall have the opportunity each week day of making requests or complaints to the director of the institution or the officer authorized to represent him.

(2) It shall be possible to make requests or complaints to the inspector of prisons during his inspection. The prisoner shall have the opportunity to talk to the inspector or to any other inspecting officer without the director or other members of the staff being present.

(3) Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.

(4) Unless it is evidently frivolous or groundless, every request or complaint shall be promptly dealt with and replied to without undue delay.

Contact with the outside world

37. Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.

38. (1) Prisoners who are foreign nationals shall be allowed reasonable facilities to communicate with the diplomatic and consular representatives of the State to which they belong.

(2) Prisoners who are nationals of States without diplomatic or consular representation in the country and refugees or stateless persons shall be allowed similar facilities to communicate with the diplomatic representative of the State which takes charge of their interests or any national or international authority whose task it is to protect such persons.

39. Prisoners shall be kept informed regularly of the more important items of news by the reading of newspapers, periodicals or special institutional publications, by hearing wireless transmissions, by lectures or by any similar means as authorized or controlled by the administration.

Books

40. Every institution shall have a library for the use of all categories of prisoners, adequately stocked with both recreational and instructional books, and prisoners shall be encouraged to make full use of it.

Religion

41. (1) If the institution contains a sufficient number of prisoners of the same religion, a qualified representative of that religion shall be appointed or approved. If the number of prisoners justifies it and conditions permit, the arrangement should be on a full-time basis.

(2) A qualified representative appointed or approved under paragraph (1) shall be allowed to hold regular services and to pay pastoral visits in private to prisoners of his religion at proper times.

(3) Access to a qualified representative of any religion shall not be refused to any prisoner. On the other hand, if any prisoner should object to a visit of any religious representative, his attitude shall be fully respected.

42. So far as practicable, every prisoner shall be allowed to satisfy the needs of his religious life by attending the services provided in the institution and having in his possession the books of religious observance and instruction of his denomination.

Retention of prisoners’ property

43. (1) All money, valuables, clothing and other effects belonging to a prisoner which under the regulations of the institution he is not allowed to retain shall on his admission to the institution be placed in safe custody. An inventory thereof shall be signed by the prisoner. Steps shall be taken to keep them in good condition.

(2) On the release of the prisoner all such articles and money shall be returned to him except in so far as he has been authorized to spend money or send any such property out of the institution, or it has been found necessary on hygienic grounds to destroy any article of clothing. The prisoner shall sign a receipt for the articles and money returned to him.

(3) Any money or effects received for a prisoner from outside shall be treated in the same way.

(4) If a prisoner brings in any drugs or medicine, the medical officer shall decide what use shall be made of them.

Notification of death, illness, transfer, etc.

44. (1) Upon the death or serious illness of, or serious injury to a prisoner, or his removal to an institution for the treatment of mental affections, the director shall at once inform the spouse, if the prisoner is married, or the nearest relative and shall in any event inform any other person previously designated by the prisoner.

(2) A prisoner shall be informed at once of the death or serious illness of any near relative. In case of the critical illness of a near relative, the prisoner should be authorized, whenever circumstances allow, to go to his bedside either under escort or alone.

(3) Every prisoner shall have the right to inform at once his family of his imprisonment or his transfer to another institution.

Removal of prisoners

45. (1) When the prisoners are being removed to or from an institution, they shall be exposed to public view as little as possible, and proper safeguards shall be adopted to protect them from insult, curiosity and publicity in any form.

(2) The transport of prisoners in conveyances with inadequate ventilation or light, or in any way which would subject them to unnecessary physical hardship, shall be prohibited.

(3) The transport of prisoners shall be carried out at the expense of the administration and equal conditions shall obtain for all of them.

Institutional personnel

46. (1) The prison administration shall provide for the careful selection of every grade of the personnel, since it is on their integrity, humanity, professional capacity and personal suitability for the work that the proper administration of the institutions depends.

(2) The prison administration shall constantly seek to awaken and maintain in the minds both of the personnel and of the public the conviction that this work is a social service of great importance, and to this end all appropriate means of informing the public should be used.

(3) To secure the foregoing ends, personnel shall be appointed on a full-time basis as professional prison officers and have civil service status with security of tenure subject only to good conduct, efficiency and physical fitness. Salaries shall be adequate to attract and retain suitable men and women; employment benefits and conditions of service shall be favourable in view of the exacting nature of the work.

47. (1) The personnel shall possess an adequate standard of education and intelligence.

(2) Before entering on duty, the personnel shall be given a course of training in their general and specific duties and be required to pass theoretical and practical tests.

(3) After entering on duty and during their career, the personnel shall maintain and improve their knowledge and professional capacity by attending courses of in-service training to be organized at suitable intervals.

48. All members of the personnel shall at all times so conduct themselves and perform their duties as to influence the prisoners for good by their example and to command their respect.

49. (1) So far as possible, the personnel shall include a sufficient number of specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, teachers and trade instructors.

(2) The services of social workers, teachers and trade instructors shall be secured on a permanent basis, without thereby excluding part-time or voluntary workers.

50. (1) The director of an institution should be adequately qualified for his task by character, administrative ability, suitable training and experience.

(2) He shall devote his entire time to his official duties and shall not be appointed on a part-time basis.

(3) He shall reside on the premises of the institution or in its immediate vicinity.

(4) When two or more institutions are under the authority of one director, he shall visit each of them at frequent intervals. A responsible resident official shall be in charge of each of these institutions.

51. (1) The director, his deputy, and the majority of the other personnel of the institution shall be able to speak the language of the greatest number of prisoners, or a language understood by the greatest number of them.

(2) Whenever necessary, the services of an interpreter shall be used.

52. (1) In institutions which are large enough to require the services of one or more full-time medical officers, at least one of them shall reside on the premises of the institution or in its immediate vicinity.

(2) In other institutions the medical officer shall visit daily and shall reside near enough to be able to attend without delay in cases of urgency.

53. (1) In an institution for both men and women, the part of the institution set aside for women shall be under the authority of a responsible woman officer who shall have the custody of the keys of all that part of the institution.

(2) No male member of the staff shall enter the part of the institution set aside for women unless accompanied by a woman officer.

(3) Women prisoners shall be attended and supervised only by women officers. This does not, however, preclude male members of the staff, particularly doctors and teachers, from carrying out their professional duties in institutions or parts of institutions set aside for women.

54. (1) Officers of the institutions shall not, in their relations with the prisoners, use force except in self-defence or in cases of attempted escape, or active or passive physical resistance to an order based on law or regulations. Officers who have recourse to force must use no more than is strictly necessary and must report the incident immediately to the director of the institution.

(2) Prison officers shall be given special physical training to enable them to restrain aggressive prisoners.

(3) Except in special circumstances, staff performing duties which bring them into direct contact with prisoners should not be armed. Furthermore, staff should in no circumstances be provided with arms unless they have been trained in their use.

Inspection

55. There shall be a regular inspection of penal institutions and services by qualified and experienced inspectors appointed by a competent authority. Their task shall be in particular to ensure that these institutions are administered in accordance with existing laws and regulations and with a view to bringing about the objectives of penal and correctional services.

Part II

RULES APPLICABLE TO SPECIAL CATEGORIES

A. Prisoners under sentence

Guiding principles

56. The guiding principles hereafter are intended to show the spirit in which penal institutions should be administered and the purposes at which they should aim, in accordance with the declaration made under Preliminary Observation 1 of the present text.

57. Imprisonment and other measures which result in cutting off an offender from the outside world are afflictive by the very fact of taking from the person the right of self-determination by depriving him of his liberty. Therefore the prison system shall not, except as incidental to justifiable segregation or the maintenance of discipline, aggravate the suffering inherent in such a situation.

58. The purpose and justification of a sentence of imprisonment or a similar measure deprivative of liberty is ultimately to protect society against crime. This end can only be achieved if the period of imprisonment is used to ensure, so far as possible, that upon his return to society the offender is not only willing but able to lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life.

59. To this end, the institution should utilize all the remedial, educational, moral, spiritual and other forces and forms of assistance which are appropriate and available, and should seek to apply them according to the individual treatment needs of the prisoners.

60. (1) The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty which tend to lessen the responsibility of the prisoners or the respect due to their dignity as human beings.

(2) Before the completion of the sentence, it is desirable that the necessary steps be taken to ensure for the prisoner a gradual return to life in society. This aim may be achieved, depending on the case, by a pre-release regime organized in the same institution or in another appropriate institution, or by release on trial under some kind of supervision which must not be entrusted to the police but should be combined with effective social aid.

61. The treatment of prisoners should emphasize not their exclusion from the community, but their continuing part in it. Community agencies should, therefore, be enlisted wherever possible to assist the staff of the institution in the task of social rehabilitation of the prisoners. There should be in connection with every institution social workers charged with the duty of maintaining and improving all desirable relations of a prisoner with his family and with valuable social agencies. Steps should be taken to safeguard, to the maximum extent compatible with the law and the sentence, the rights relating to civil interests, social security rights and other social benefits of prisoners.

62. The medical services of the institution shall seek to detect and shall treat any physical or mental illnesses or defects which may hamper a prisoner’s rehabilitation. All necessary medical, surgical and psychiatric services shall be provided to that end.

63. (1) The fulfilment of these principles requires individualization of treatment and for this purpose a flexible system of classifying prisoners in groups; it is therefore desirable that such groups should be distributed in separate institutions suitable for the treatment of each group.

(2) These institutions need not provide the same degree of security for every group. It is desirable to provide varying degrees of security according to the needs of different groups. Open institutions, by the very fact that they provide no physical security against escape but rely on the self-discipline of the inmates, provide the conditions most favourable to rehabilitation for carefully selected prisoners.

(3) It is desirable that the number of prisoners in closed institutions should not be so large that the individualization of treatment is hindered. In some countries it is considered that the population of such institutions should not exceed five hundred. In open institutions the population should be as small as possible.

(4) On the other hand, it is undesirable to maintain prisons which are so small that proper facilities cannot be provided.

64. The duty of society does not end with a prisoner’s release. There should, therefore, be governmental or private agencies capable of lending the released prisoner efficient after-care directed towards the lessening of prejudice against him and towards his social rehabilitation.

Treatment

65. The treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment or a similar measure shall have as its purpose, so far as the length of the sentence permits, to establish in them the will to lead law-abiding and self-supporting lives after their release and to fit them to do so. The treatment shall be such as will encourage their self-respect and develop their sense of responsibility.

66. (1) To these ends, all appropriate means shall be used, including religious care in the countries where this is possible, education, vocational guidance and training, social casework, employment counselling, physical development and strengthening of moral character, in accordance with the individual needs of each prisoner, taking account of his social and criminal history, his physical and mental capacities and aptitudes, his personal temperament, the length of his sentence and his prospects after release.

(2) For every prisoner with a sentence of suitable length, the director shall receive, as soon as possible after his admission, full reports on all the matters referred to in the foregoing paragraph. Such reports shall always include a report by a medical officer, wherever possible qualified in psychiatry, on the physical and mental condition of the prisoner.

(3) The reports and other relevant documents shall be placed in an individual file. This file shall be kept up to date and classified in such a way that it can be consulted by the responsible personnel whenever the need arises.

Classification and individualization

67. The purposes of classification shall be:

(a) To separate from others those prisoners who, by reason of their criminal records or bad characters, are likely to exercise a bad influence;

(b) To divide the prisoners into classes in order to facilitate their treatment with a view to their social rehabilitation.

68. So far as possible separate institutions or separate sections of an institution shall be used for the treatment of the different classes of prisoners.

69. As soon as possible after admission and after a study of the personality of each prisoner with a sentence of suitable length, a programme of treatment shall be prepared for him in the light of the knowledge obtained about his individual needs, his capacities and dispositions.

Privileges

70. Systems of privileges appropriate for the different classes of prisoners and the different methods of treatment shall be established at every institution, in order to encourage good conduct, develop a sense of responsibility and secure the interest and co-operation of the prisoners in their treatment.

Work

71. (1) Prison labour must not be of an afflictive nature.

(2) All prisoners under sentence shall be required to work, subject to their physical and mental fitness as determined by the medical officer.

(3) Sufficient work of a useful nature shall be provided to keep prisoners actively employed for a normal working day.

(4) So far as possible the work provided shall be such as will maintain or increase the prisoners, ability to earn an honest living after release.

(5) Vocational training in useful trades shall be provided for prisoners able to profit thereby and especially for young prisoners.

(6) Within the limits compatible with proper vocational selection and with the requirements of institutional administration and discipline, the prisoners shall be able to choose the type of work they wish to perform.

72. (1) The organization and methods of work in the institutions shall resemble as closely as possible those of similar work outside institutions, so as to prepare prisoners for the conditions of normal occupational life.

(2) The interests of the prisoners and of their vocational training, however, must not be subordinated to the purpose of making a financial profit from an industry in the institution.

73. (1) Preferably institutional industries and farms should be operated directly by the administration and not by private contractors.

(2) Where prisoners are employed in work not controlled by the administration, they shall always be under the supervision of the institution’s personnel. Unless the work is for other departments of the government the full normal wages for such work shall be paid to the administration by the persons to whom the labour is supplied, account being taken of the output of the prisoners.

74. (1) The precautions laid down to protect the safety and health of free workmen shall be equally observed in institutions.

(2) Provision shall be made to indemnify prisoners against industrial injury, including occupational disease, on terms not less favourable than those extended by law to free workmen.

75. (1) The maximum daily and weekly working hours of the prisoners shall be fixed by law or by administrative regulation, taking into account local rules or custom in regard to the employment of free workmen.

(2) The hours so fixed shall leave one rest day a week and sufficient time for education and other activities required as part of the treatment and rehabilitation of the prisoners.

76. (1) There shall be a system of equitable remuneration of the work of prisoners.

(2) Under the system prisoners shall be allowed to spend at least a part of their earnings on approved articles for their own use and to send a part of their earnings to their family.

(3) The system should also provide that a part of the earnings should be set aside by the administration so as to constitute a savings fund to be handed over to the prisoner on his release.

Education and recreation

77. (1) Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction in the countries where this is possible. The education of illiterates and young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the administration.

(2) So far as practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.

78. Recreational and cultural activities shall be provided in all institutions for the benefit of the mental and physical health of prisoners.

Social relations and after-care

79. Special attention shall be paid to the maintenance and improvement of such relations between a prisoner and his family as are desirable in the best interests of both.

80. From the beginning of a prisoner’s sentence consideration shall be given to his future after release and he shall be encouraged and assisted to maintain or establish such relations with persons or agencies outside the institution as may promote the best interests of his family and his own social rehabilitation.

81. (1) Services and agencies, governmental or otherwise, which assist released prisoners to re-establish themselves in society shall ensure, so far as is possible and necessary, that released prisoners be provided with appropriate documents and identification papers, have suitable s and work to go to, are suitably and adequately clothed having regard to the climate and season, and have sufficient means to reach their destination and maintain themselves in the period immediately following their release.

(2) The approved representatives of such agencies shall have all necessary access to the institution and to prisoners and shall be taken into consultation as to the future of a prisoner from the beginning of his sentence.

(3) It is desirable that the activities of such agencies shall be centralized or co-ordinated as far as possible in order to secure the best use of their efforts.

B. Insane and mentally abnormal prisoners

82. (1) Persons who are found to be insane shall not be detained in prisons and arrangements shall be made to remove them to mental institutions as soon as possible.

(2) Prisoners who suffer from other mental diseases or abnormalities shall be observed and treated in specialized institutions under medical management.

(3) During their stay in a prison, such prisoners shall be placed under the special supervision of a medical officer.

(4) The medical or psychiatric service of the penal institutions shall provide for the psychiatric treatment of all other prisoners who are in need of such treatment.

83. It is desirable that steps should be taken, by arrangement with the appropriate agencies, to ensure if necessary the continuation of psychiatric treatment after release and the provision of social-psychiatric after-care.

C. Prisoners under arrest or awaiting trial

84. (1) Persons arrested or imprisoned by reason of a criminal charge against them, who are detained either in police custody or in prison custody (jail) but have not yet been tried and sentenced, will be referred to as “untried prisoners” hereinafter in these rules.

(2) Unconvicted prisoners are presumed to be innocent and shall be treated as such.

(3) Without prejudice to legal rules for the protection of individual liberty or prescribing the procedure to be observed in respect of untried prisoners, these prisoners shall benefit by a special regime which is described in the following rules in its essential requirements only.

85. (1) Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners.

(2) Young untried prisoners shall be kept separate from adults and shall in principle be detained in separate institutions.

86. Untried prisoners shall sleep singly in separate rooms, with the reservation of different local custom in respect of the climate.

87. Within the limits compatible with the good order of the institution, untried prisoners may, if they so desire, have their food procured at their own expense from the outside, either through the administration or through their family or friends. Otherwise, the administration shall provide their food.

88. (1) An untried prisoner shall be allowed to wear his own clothing if it is clean and suitable.

(2) If he wears prison dress, it shall be different from that supplied to convicted prisoners.

89. An untried prisoner shall always be offered opportunity to work, but shall not be required to work. If he chooses to work, he shall be paid for it.

90. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to procure at his own expense or at the expense of a third party such books, newspapers, writing materials and other means of occupation as are compatible with the interests of the administration of justice and the security and good order of the institution.

91. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to be visited and treated by his own doctor or dentist if there is reasonable ground for his application and he is able to pay any expenses incurred.

92. An untried prisoner shall be allowed to inform immediately his family of his detention and shall be given all reasonable facilities for communicating with his family and friends, and for receiving visits from them, subject only to restrictions and supervision as are necessary in the interests of the administration of justice and of the security and good order of the institution.

93. For the purposes of his defence, an untried prisoner shall be allowed to apply for free legal aid where such aid is available, and to receive visits from his legal adviser with a view to his defence and to prepare and hand to him confidential instructions. For these purposes, he shall if he so desires be supplied with writing material. Interviews between the prisoner and his legal adviser may be within sight but not within the hearing of a police or institution official.

D. Civil prisoners

94. In countries where the law permits imprisonment for debt, or by order of a court under any other non-criminal process, persons so imprisoned shall not be subjected to any greater restriction or severity than is necessary to ensure safe custody and good order. Their treatment shall be not less favourable than that of untried prisoners, with the reservation, however, that they may possibly be required to work.

E. Persons arrested or detained without charge

95. Without prejudice to the provisions of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, persons arrested or imprisoned without charge shall be accorded the same protection as that accorded under part I and part II, section C. Relevant provisions of part II, section A, shall likewise be applicable where their application may be conducive to the benefit of this special group of persons in custody, provided that no measures shall be taken implying that re-education or rehabilitation is in any way appropriate to persons not convicted of any criminal offence.

Jails in India : An Investigation

By Raman Nanda

(From PUCL Bulletin, Nov 1981)

See alos,
Case Study: Tihar, Delhi 
Case Study: Arrah, Bihar 
Case Study: Sakchi, Jamshedpur
Any discussion on prisoners in a sympathetic manner evokes a sharp response: “Why should you worry about these people? They are dangerous criminals, murderers and rapists, why complain if they are ill treated ? They deserve it.” In the popular mind, prisoners are dangerous criminals and hence deserve no mercy. No wonder the local population of Bhagalpur-and many outside-supported the Bhagalpur blinding.

The notion that prisoners are dangerous criminals assumes that our police is, in the first instance, able to nab the culprits- dacoits, murderers, black marketers, smugglers; that prosecution then does take place; that notwithstanding the delays, criminals are convicted-whether they are rich or poor.

Who are the people in jails ? Are they dangerous criminals, a threat to society ? Our investigations establish that a majority are either under-trials or those picked up for other reasons.

In Tihar Jail, in the capital of India, children are simply kidnapped from the streets and made to do all the menial work; the police who act in liaison with the jail staff do not pick up the rich people’s children. Those nabbed are the poor, without a home, who sleep on the pavements or in a public park. The criminal charge against them is vagrancy !

Kuldip Nayar, who spent some time in Tihar Jail during the Emergency, writes: “The slaves were boys between ten and eighteen, employed as ‘helpers’, and there were scores of them. They cooked, washed uten-sils, cleaned rooms, fetched water and did much back-breaking labour to ‘help’ those who were paid to do these chores.”

They would be woken up before six to prepare morning tea and would be allowed to sleep around 10 at night after scrubbing pots and pans. They were herded into a ward which had no sanitary facilities, but were always well lit all night to enable a sleepy warder to check at a glance if they were all there. The warder explained that whenever the number of prisoners in jails xvent up, the police were asked to bring boys to help with the chores.

One is inclined to believe that Delhi is not an excep-tion. For jails in many places are overcrowded and naturally the jail staff needs “helpers.” The slave system in varying degrees may well be prevalent in jails in other states.

Poverty, Vagrancy and Prostitution
About inmates in Hissar Jail, Primila Lewis has this to say : “Arrested on a charge of ‘awara gardi’ under the famous Section 169 of the Indian Penal Code for vagrancy, Piloo…. could not have been more than sixteen-years-old. She stayed with us a few weeks and then got out on bail provided for her by a constable in return for a spell with him as his mistress.

“This we learned was a routine occurrence. Single warders or policemen would offer to stand bail for these feckless young girls knowing that they were orphans and without help, in return for temporary or long term cohabitation.”

I was told of a similar instance from Khetri Jail, Rajasthan, where two jailers bailed out a woman and kept her for a week. In Central Jail, Jaipur, my friend heard a woman prisoner refusing bail arranged for her by another woman, a prisoner acting as a go-between, “I know why you want me out of jail.” The All Bengal Women’s Association report on women prisoners in Presidency Jail, Calcutta, in 1974 highlights similar incidents.

Then there is the story of Meena: “Meena had arri-ved (in Elissar Jail) in a fearful state, unable to walk, her rectum and vaginal area torn and bleeding, and raving like a lunatic. She had been kept in police custody for twenty-two days after her arrest and every day she had been raped by five or six policemen in succession. Practically deranged by this experience, she was then handed over to jail authorities. She screamed and sobbed and threatened to jump on the thanedar or sub-inspector just as he and his cohorts had ‘jumped.’ The sub-inspector of police shook his head sadly. ‘She is mad’, he. said, and the jail autho-rities asked no more questions.”

Meena’s crime-brought from a village in Nepal by a brahmin.. . .left alone… vagabond… She was sentenced to seven days simple imprisonment. So, that was her “simple imprisonment”. One may go on and on. The victims invariably are the poor.

Innocent?
And then there are the prisoners from Hazaribagh and Jamshedpur jails who Mary Tyler describes: “Nearest to the bars slept Bulkani, old, skinny and asthmatic, a retired colliery worker, in prison without trial for three years already, on a petty theft charge..”

She cites the case of 55-year-old Gulabi : “Together with four other labourers she had been harvesting paddy on a landlord’s field, unaware that the ownership of that particular land was disputed by his cousin who promptly had all the labourers, and the man who had employed them, arrested for stealing his paddy. Ironi-cally, the two landowners settled their quarrel and Gulabi’s employer was released from jail, while the labourers remained behind bars. Gulabi had been in prison for nearly three years.. . . without once seeing the magistrate.”

Mary Tyler goes on: “A child was brought into our care. Her father, a widowed coal miner, had gone on hunger strike outside the colliery manager’s office after being redundant. On the fifth day he had been arres-ted and since there was nobody to look after his three-year-old daughter, he had been obliged to bring her to jail with him.”

In the Women’s Reformatory, Jaipur, as on July 1, 1981, out of a total number of 40 convicts, nine were charged with murder and attempted suicide. Eight of them were fed up with life for various reasons (poverty, fight with in-laws).
Once is not Enough
If you are poor and have once landed in jail-for whatever reason or no reason-the probability of your being back in jail off and on is fairly high. This is the impression I gathered from my talk with some of the under-trials in Jaipur Central Jail. “When you are an undertrial and go to the court every fortnight, the people, policemen everybody watches you.. . . You are a ‘criminal’. You will be nabbed again as a suspect when-ever anything goes wrong in your locality. At the police lock-up you will be beaten (if you do not bribe them) to extort a ‘confession’.”

“These policemen,” another undertrial said with anger, “ask you to steal and demand their hafta (share). If you do not have the ill-gotten money, how will you give them? And if you don’t, they will throw you in jail. What does one do? Keep away from crime and land in jail? Or, do all the wrongs, give the dogs their share and be a free man outside?”

Often when an undertrial is to be released, the jail authorities hold him and ring up all the police stations if they “need” him There is many an instance of a prisoner released by court and re-arrested at the jail gate itself on some other charge. These tactics have been used consistently against the political acti-vists of all hues in general and the so-called Naxalites in particular.

While some are physically prevented by the police from going to the court, others-and there are reports to this effect-by sheer poverty may not be able to get money to meet the travelling and bail expense. Absence in court…, warrants issued… . back to jail.

The reader might well ask, “You are trying to appeal to our emotions.”

Well, yes, for why should one look at things in an emotionless manner ? Figures, however convincing- and I shall cite statistics as also official statements— tend to hide the intense human misery.

According to the 78th report of the Law Commission as on April 1, 1977, of a total prison population of 1,84,169, as many as 1,01,083 (roughly 55%) were under-trials. For specific jails, some other reports show: Secunderabad Central Jail- 80 per cent under-trials; Surat-78 per cent under-trials; Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya-66 per cent under-trials.

Most under-trials are for petty offences (charges whose veracity itself is quite questionable with the police trying to make a quick-rupee through display of their uniform and ‘danda’). Some are charged with murder. In Sikar Jail, for example, there were cases where as many as nine under-trials were charged with one murder. Some of them were not even in the area of the crime. The records also show that children of eight years are charged with murder. For instance, in Rajasthan, for which I have detailed figures, for the four years 1975.79, of the total convicted prisoners every year, over 65 per cent of the convicts had been sentenced to less than a year. Less than 10 per cent of the convicts were sentenced to over ten years impri-sonment. And as K.F. Rustomji, former Inspector General of Police and former member of the Police Commission, writes : “The number of criminal repeaters in India is rather small. The number of dangerous criminals-psychopathic killers, murderers, professional robbers, burglars and compulsive rapists-would be very few.”

A further point that hardly needs any statistical corroboration-most of those who are nabbed by the police and are unable to have themselves bailed out are the poor. Those with resources, the big criminals, the smugglers, corrupt politicians, tax evaders are people who are rarely caught. Thus our institutions penalise not the violators of law but the poor-crimes or no crimes.
Life Behind Bars
What are the conditions in jails? What is the effect of confinement on the human psyche, away from friends and relatives, persistently nagged by fears? Caught in his own complexes, with no one to console him, how does a prisoner live through his years in jail?

Food, Accommodation and Medical Treatment
Most of the jails were built in the nineteenth century or at the turn of this century. They are in a state of disrepair and are overcrowded. The Shah Comini-ssion reports that on the eve of the Emergency, in as many as 15 of the 27 States and Union Territories, the actual population of the prisoners far exceeded the authorised accommodation. In Assam there were 7909 prisoners in accommodation meant for 4,930; Bihar- 38,407 as against 21,140; Madhyn Pradesh-16,66 as against 12,388; Orissa-l0,222 as against 6,668; Maha-rashtra-19,786 as against 14,801; West Bengal-25,999 as against 20,237; Delhi 2,699 as against 1,273. And with the imposition of Emergency thousands more were added.

The food served to the prisoners is unfit for consu-mption. According to a report of Seraikela Jail in Bihar in Economic and Political Weekly, July 1978, “Due to overcrowding, a number of prisoners have to spend the nights actually sitting up. The prisoners are invariably very poor people; but the food is so rotten that they find it revolting…..Quite often the prisoners are ordered to lap up the dal which overflows on to the floor. For vegetable the prisoners are fed with wild grass and roots…. A glass of water was found to have no less than one inch of mud at the bottom… . For 400 to 800 prisoners, there are just eight latrines. The prisoners therefore defecate at the drains. In winter, six of them have to huddle under one blanket. Tuber-cular prisoners sleep with the as yet un-diseased ones.”

Within a state, the situation may be different in different jails. For instance, in Rajasthan, satisfactory conditions prevail in Sikar Jail. The Jailor, a cons-cientious young man, has allowed the prisoners to form a panchayat which supervises the purchase and preparation of food. Not only are the prisoners satis-fied about the arrangement, they decided to donate one meal each to the flood affected victims in Rajasthan in July, 1981.

However, the situation was quite bad in Jaipur jail and worse still in Central Jail, Ajmer and sub-jail, Jhunjhunu. In Jhunjhunu, where there was incidentally no shortage of water, the jailor sanctioned half a bucket of water per week per person for washing and bathing. There was overcrowding, food was bad and inmates suffered from all sorts of skin diseases. If any one complained, he was beaten up. (Police firing in Samastipur Jail in January 1981, on prisoners protesting against bad food is just one example. In Ajmer Jail, Rajasthan, on the basis of a secret letter from prisoners, the ADM, Ajmer, conducted a surprise raid in the jail in December, 1980, and found 83 quintals of wheat buried in the jail compound. He also sealed the sand over which in des-peration, the jail authorities had dumped edible oil. The prisoners went on hunger strike. The DIG, Prisons. Rajasthan assured prisoners of an inquiry. The result? The prisoners who had pointed out the misdeeds have been transferred to different jails in Rajasthan. One of them was beaten so much that his arm has been fractured.)
Medical facilities-however meager-are available only in some central jails in each state. In district and sub-jails, (asterisk) a compounder or some registered medical practitioner is supposed to visit at regular intervals; the visits never materialize.

“Natural” Deaths
No wonder then that many prisoners die a “natural death” due to diseases which are otherwise minor and curable. In Seraikela Jail which has a capa-city of 82 and which was being used to keep 400 to 800 prisoners, “143 prisoners, mostly adivasi under-trials died between 1973 and 1975”. Bhabani Shanker Hoota, a political activist, who spend some time in Rourkela Special Jail, Orissa, during Emergency, tells us of two doaths in judicial custody “due to the combined negli-gence of hospital and jail staff.” Similar are the comp-laints from Central Jail, Jaipur. Here I came across, among other serious cases, a undertrial, a man of 22, who was sent from Karoli to Central Jail, Jaipur “for treatment”. His right arm was fractured. Not only was the bone exposed, but about an inch of it was jutting out. And what was worse, he had been in that state for over 20 days when I met him. He had been going to the jail doctor everyday and the doctor dutifully applied a yellow medicine and bandaged it. Why was he not sent to the city hospital ? “No police guard to accompany him to the hospital,” was the reply. (However, three days after my visit he was sent to the hospital and was operated upon.) In Karnataka, Snehlata Reddy, a serious chronic asthma patient, was denied proper medical treatment. She was refused parole in spite of the doctor’s recommendation and died with-in a week of her release.
Divide and Rule
Jails, overcrowded with prisoners and commonly understaffed, are run on the policy of ‘divide and rule’. The Jail Manual provides that from amongst the con-victs the authorities shall appoint “convict officers” (COs). They are supposed to be some sort of prefects for the inmates, but actually are the extra-institutional force of the jail authorities. The Convict Officer is a prized position, for it entitles a remission in jail sentence. These prisoners obtain better food from the mess and sometimes the “sick diet” (milk, fruit, eggs).

As a research student, when I said that I wanted to meet the prisoners in Central Jail, Jaipur, the authori-ties would call for these C.Os. I realised that they were viewed with hostility by the ordinary prisoners. These C.Os. told me that “there are no problems in the jail.. food is good. . medicines are available to sick.. Monday parades are held regularly”.

Ordinary prisoners had a different story to tell, of course out of hearing of C.O.s who would invariable try to hang on when an outsider interviewed the prisoner.

On the weekly parades, which are held once in a month or two, the C.O.s accompany the Superinten-dent along with the Jailor and Warders. The Superin-tendent always moves into the wards with a massive force. If anyone complains, the C.O.s beat up the prisoners at his behest. The disobedient prisoners, those who ‘instigate’ the others, are handled by C.O.s and the jail staff together. “Those who demand better conditions and are rather persistent, are taken to the drama hall-meant for recreational and cultu-ral activities-tied to the pillar and beaten up by these people”.

The substantial portion of the “income” of the jail authorities is obtained through the C.O.s who are in direct touch with the ordinary prisoners. They charge the prisoners for putting in a word to the authorities for getting them remission in jail sentence or allowing the prisoner to have “illegal” articles in the jail (ghee, charas, or hasheesh). Often the promotion of a prisoner from an ordinary convict to convict night watchman or convict officer is through bribing the jail authorities. Most prisoners live in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Though suffering is common to all, one does not see a sense of unity among them.

Loneliness and Frustration
Theirs is a closed existence; visits from friends and relatives are few and far between for most prisoners. Many of them have not had a visit for years together. Poor as their friends and relatives are, they find it difficult to bear the transportation expenses to visit their kith and kin in jail. Further, they are made to wait for hours at the jail gate; in many jails the gate-keeper asks for a bribe.

Then there are sexual perversions of all sorts. Homosexuality is widely prevalent. The jail authori-ties turn a blind eye to this. When a young boy enters, the prisoners have been known to have bid a price for the boy. The price offered is in terms of ‘bidis’, soap or charas. Often prisoners have been divided into camps and the groups have fought each other on the issue of who shall have the new entrant.

Gross Discrimination
The stories of the comforts and favours given to some of the alleged criminals, like Charles Sobhraj are well known. Santosh Rana writes about Presidency Jail, Calcutta, during the Emergency: “Some smugglers were there. They never ate jail food. Food reached them from their houses everyday. Some had the privilege of going out to their houses at night and coming back in the early morning”. And you do not have to be a smuggler or a kingpin to enjoy extra benefits. In Delhi jail, as those who have been there will tell you, you could have whatever food you wanted, only by paying a higher price. In Jaipur Jail, some prisoners from well-to-do families and undergoing life sentence have no problems in going out. On the pretext of going out to the city hospital “for treatment” they go to their homes with or without the police guard, returning to the jail gate by evening.

While these people get police escort “to go to hospital”, those who are genuinely sick and in need of treatment but resource-less are, usually not sent to the hospital. The plea of the jail authorities- “The police does not send us the guards”.

What is worse is that even the law of the land allows for discriminatory treatment. Some states classify prisoners as being in ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ class on the basis of their income or social status. The Shah Commission Report shows that even amongst MISA detenus, there was discriminatory treatment in almost all states.

I shall quote from the Shah Commission Report the part which deals with MISA detainees in Gujarat which holds for other states too with some variations. “The detaining authorities were autho-rised to classify the prisoners according to their discretion. However in April 1976, the Government issued certain guidelines treating Members of Parlia-ment, Members of Legislative Assembly, Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chairman of Committees or Corpo-ration/President and Vice-President/Chairman of Committee of District and Taluka Panchayat as Class I prisoners. As a result of the petition filed by some of the detainees, the Government gave an assurance to the- High Court to examine the case of each detainee separately and further clarified on October 26, 1976 that engineers, doctors, lawyers and persons paying income tax over a period of 10 years of not less than Rs. 5000 a year, who had been detained for political activities and Presidents of Municipalities, would be given Class I status. Businessmen paying income tax of not less than Rs. 5000 a year were also given Class I status..

The treatment meted out to those arrested in the late 1960s and early 1970’s under the pretext of their being “Naxalites” breaks even those standards set by jail authorities themselves. Thousands still lang-uish in prisons without trial. After intensive efforts by civil liberties groups and many petitions to the Supreme Court some have been released in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. We just need to mention one ex-ample, that of Nagbhushan Patnaik, to exemplify the physical and mental deterioration that is the result of the brutal administration treatment in our jails.

Our judicial and penal system in its actual working obviously discriminates between the rich and the poor. In this scheme of thing what can be the case for prison reform?

Reforming the Reformatories
Let us outline some of the contours of the problem:

  • Imprisonment of an overwhelming number of under-trials-many of them being held in custody for long periods.
  • Lack of accommodation-overcrowding, bad food and an almost complete absence of medical faci-lities.
  • While hardened criminals are very few, severe restrictions are placed on almost all prisoners. The whole approach is retributive rather than reformative.
  • Prisoners demanding better treatment for them-selves have received lathis and bullets.
  • Rampant corruption in jail administration. One must note that the wage scale of the jail staff is also very low.
  • Lack of resources for jail administration, as one can infer from the low allocation for jails in the state and Central budgets.
  • Not all violators of law are penalised: it is the poor and quite often the innocent who are victi-mised.
  • The prisoners are denied “natural habitat” which we try to provide even to the animals we cage in our zoos. This coupled with the hopeless condi-tions in jails affects them irreversibly.

Some Suggestions
First,
 since on the one hand, we are confronted with imprisoning large numbers of under-trials, and on the other there is serious overcrowding, why not release the under-trials who have been in jail for long periods?

Many would ask: “Courts take a long time to decide and we cannot afford to release the murderers and potential criminals”. As already mentioned many of them are not criminals. We need only to recall that following Supreme Court orders, the Bihar Government in 1979 released about 27,000 under-trials and there was no noticeable increase in crime.

Secondly, our prison environments are unnatural and inhuman. Along with other aspects of prison life, this leads to serious psychological disorders and even insanity. The conditions, in fact, “mature” petty thieves into hardened criminals. The “habitat” the prison must be changed. One possibility is the open camp system.

The open camp experiment is. being successfully carried out in Rajasthan. In Sampurnanand Open Camp, Sanganer, 50 to 60 convicts -all murderers- live with their families. There are no boundary walls, no fences with only four policemen as guards. The convicts are free to pursue any vocation they choose. I met one ‘prisoner” at a tea stall-which is run by him; another one was working on a government farm and also doing his own farming on one acre piece of land from the government; yet another, a registered medical practitioner had set up a clinic in the town. The prisoners who are eligible for the open camp must have completed 1/3 of their sentence in what can be described as the closed jail.

“The open camp”, says the Inspector General of Police, Rajasthan, “does not cost us much. We have constructed the houses. We have given them some land. They earn their own living. And what is the best thing about the camp is that there has hardly been any instance of escape in the past five years. I may add that to be chosen for open camp, prisoners have to sometimes bribe their way through. The idea in itself is very good, is workable and should be extended all over.”

Thirdly, there is no internal mechanism to check the functioning of the jails today, which remain oppressive and cruel. Suggestions like employing jail staff of high character, or the strict implementation of the jail manual do not work. One section that can doggedly keep a close watch on the prisoners’ plight and make efforts to right the wrongs is the prisoners themselves. They must have the right to assemble and organise into panchayats. Their representatives must be involved in decisions regarding food and maintenance.

Fourthly, the supervision of the administration by the prisoners can be effective only when the rights of prisoners are spelt out. The eight jail manuals that I could collect-all of them, based on the Prisons’ Act, 1894-contained detailed instructions on petty things like the width of the belt to be worn by the staff, the number of holes per square inch on the gauge to seive flour but there was not a single chapter on the rights of the prisoners. While there is a need for a jail manual incorporating reformative approach as against the old manual drafted by colonial rulers primarily with a view to punish and suppress political activities, particular attention should be given to clearly defining the rights of prisoners. These rights must be enforceable in courts.

Fifthly, if the rights of prisoners, as proposed, are to be implemented, provisions must be made so that the jail staff do not violate them. These can be checked by the prisoners only if they have the right to communicate such instances to the judiciary and civil liberties groups freely and fearlessly. The prisoners must, therefore, have the right to mail out letters without any censorship by the jail authorities. Systematic efforts to involve the public and raise their awareness on these issues mtist be made simultaneously.

And lastly, what needs urgent attention and action is the question of bias in the operation of our police, judiciary and judicial custody against the underprivileged and poor. Notwithstanding any amount of prison reform, this bias will continue as long as there is gross inequality and discrimination.

JUDGEs  or   Brokers  of  Justice ?

https://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/judges-or-brokers-of-justice  ,

 

 

Parappana Agrahara Central Jail raided

A surprise raid was conducted inside the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail on Saturday afternoon. A team, headed by a senior police officer, raided the prison canteen and some prisoners’ cells.

According to the jail officials, the raid was conducted at 12.30 pm and the search team found over Rs 2,500 in cash and some things which were prohibited in side the canteen. They also recovered some items such as expensive Basmati rice, sugar, mobile phone sets and several varieties of vegetables. The officials also said that canteen staff were selling cosmetic items like perfumes and luxury soaps to the prisoners.

According to the jail sources, the state government has proposed the installation of 3G jammers in Central jails of Mysore, Bangalore, Belgaum and Bellary some equipment have been already brought to Parappana Agrahara Jail.

Nearly 19 3G jammers will be fixed inside the jail and the installation work is in under progress.

VIPs bribe their way in prison too

VIPS LODGED in Tihar jail have started to feel at home now. Officials said not one of the high-profile inmates in Tihar has complained about the facilities or the food inside the jail. Authorities seem to be taking special care of them. All at a price.

Tihar’s jail number 4, considered by inmates as the ‘jail for the kids’ has never seen a VIP inmate of the stature of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee’s former chairman Suresh Kalmadi. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi, accused in the 2G case, on the other hand, is getting the VIP treatment by default.

“Higher-ups have ordered that she be given special treatment”. Sources in the jail said the VIPs in the various jails, especially Kalmadi, are being provided facilities like no other VIP inmate has ever been provided.

The food prepared in jail number 4 is of a much better quality as compared with other jails.

Two young assistants have been ‘hired’ for Kalmadi from among the inmates. Their job is to keep his 10×12 feet cell spic and span, make sure he gets food and water of good quality on time, and take care of other errands.

“They are paid good money by Kalmadi for the daily work they do. He makes sure (through policemen) that they get jail coupons of a good amount regularly and that their family members who visit them get some money,” a source said.

People who have served terms in Tihar say money can help get anything done inside the jails. “Bribery is the safest bet inside the jail. Money can help you hire domestic helps, get home-cooked food, and make sure you are treated nicely by the authorities. It is a different world inside,” says Iftikhar Gilani, a journalist who works with FW.

Gilani served time in jail after the Special Cell of the Delhi police wrongly arrested him under the Official Secrets Act in 2002.

Kalmadi’s trusted aides Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma are lodged in the jail number 3. They too are getting the special treatment, “but not as much as Kalmadi.”

Jail 3 is considered as a grade-II jail, while jail 4, where most inmates are below 25 and are not hardened criminals, is considered a better one.

It was the lack of enough space that forced authorities to lodge Kalmadi’s aides in the grade-II sections of the jail.

Accused in 2G case — Unitech Wireless Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty and Swan Telecom MD Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are all lodged in the ward number 4 of jail 3. Main accused A Raja, Shahid Balwa and Siddharth Behura are in jail number 1 and they are better off.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi is lodged in the jail number 6. Her cell is kept cleaner and she is served special food everyday. She also enjoys all help for free. “Even the food is served to her by inmates who have been ordered to manage her needs,” says a source.

The five corporate bigwigs accused in the 2G scam along with Bhanot and Verma have together formed a group which pays well and gets work done as per their demands. And nobody is complaining since the special ‘support staff’ provided to these bigwigs share the earnings with others.

“It is a simple give and take business inside the jail. People who help rich inmates smuggle cash inside and manage the helpers who do their work get the lion’s share of the payments,” says Gilani.

All the inmates are provided newspapers, magazines, and other journals that they ask for.

The food served inside the jails for most inmates consists of a few dry chapatis, some sabzi, dal and rice. The jail is considered the best place to lose weight since the food served is generally prepared badly, has low nutrition levels and is mostly not even enough for most.

None of the VIPs, however, have lost weight, sources say. Food served to them is prepared separately by a team of inmates working in the kitchens under directions from the support staff.

Little wonder that nobody is complaining.

Sanjay Dutt out of jail 40% of time, Bombay HC asks why he is so special

On March 21, when Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt is due to return to Yerawada Central Jail, he would have spent 118 of his 305 days of imprisonment — almost 40 per cent of the time he is supposed to serve — either on furlough for the treatment of his leg pain, or on parole sought citing his wife Manyata’s illness.

This apparent leniency of the state government came under the scanner of the Bombay High Court Tuesday which told authorities that the general outcry among people is that the diligence shown in granting Dutt’s requests is not seen in cases of other convicts.

To address this, the court said it was high time the rules for such relief were looked into, and that there was a need for making “radical changes” in the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.

The court directed the state government to constitute a committee comprising bureaucrats of the home department, representatives from jail administration, and other competent officials for suggesting amendments in the rules for granting parole and furlough to prisoners.

“The state government has been granted four weeks’ time to carry out the exercise. Considering the large number of absconding prisoners, proper care has to be taken in modifying the rules,” the court said as it heard a PIL on the matter.

Dutt’s conviction for possession of arms in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case was upheld by the Supreme Court in March last year and he was lodged in Yerawada in May to serve the rest of his five-year sentence as he had spent 18 months in custody earlier.

In the last week of September, he was granted a 14-day furlough which he had sought to treat his leg pain. This was extended for another 14 days.

In December, he was granted parole, which was extended once in January. Dutt again applied to the divisional commissioner asking for another one-month extension and this was granted a week back.

“On March 21, when Dutt comes back, he would have spent 118 days out of jail from the 305 days from May last year. He can again apply for furlough and parole from May this year, which we think he will. Of these 118 days, 14 days of the extended parole will not be counted in his sentence and he will have to serve it later,” said a senior prisons department officer.

“Several other inmates, including those serving for even very serious crimes, are granted paroles and subsequent extensions. It’s just that his case has attracted attention as he is a celebrity,” the officer said.

Rajendra Dhamane, DIG in the prisons department, too defended the decision. “The paroles are granted by the divisional commissioner. All procedures have been followed from our side in granting the furlough,” he said.

But a PIL has questioned the discretion used by authorities

Editorial : AEROPLANE RIDES FOR CORRUPT  POLICE & CORRUPT JUDGES OF INDIA

 

 TORTURE CHAMBERS OF INDIA – 3RD DEGREE TORTURE PERPETRATED BY POLICE IN INDIA – Gross violations of human rights by police

 

Aeroplane is the most cruelest form of 3rd degree torture perpetrated by police on suspects. Many innocent people have confessed to crimes hey have not at all committed unable to bear the torture ,  pain. Many innocents have been murdered in lock-ups  by police during these type of 3rd degree torture. Even  if we go by the logic of police that  criminals  only sing under torture & they rightly deserve it ,  when a petty criminal  stealing  Rs.10000 is fit for “AEROPLANE TORTURE” , what about criminals stealing crores of rupees , what about corrupt police who aid  tens of such big time criminals by filing B-report , by  putting weak case of prosecution , by delaying tactics allowing for destruction of evidences , etc , what about judges who acquits big time criminals , who give judicial orders while they are in a drunken state ,  who acquit big criminals by conducting hearings even on dates of government holidays (concocted). ARE NOT THESE  CORRUPT POLICE & JUDGES FIT FOR  “BUSINESS CLASS  AEROPLANE RIDE TORTURE as per the same logic of police.

At the outset , e – Voice salutes the few honest police personnel who are
silently doing their duties inspite of pressures , harassment by
political bosses & corrupt superiors , inspite of frequent transfers ,
promotion holdups , etc. overcoming the lure of bribe ,those few are
silently doing their duties without any publicity or fanfare. we salute
them & pay our respects to them and hereby appeal to those few honest
to catch their corrupt colleagues.

The police are trained , to crack open the cases of crimes by just
holding onto a thread of clue. Based on that clue they investigate like
“Sherlock holmes” and apprehend the real criminals. nowadays , when
police are under various pressures , stresses – they are frequently
using 3rd degree torture methods on innocents. Mainly there are 3
reasons for this :
1) when the investigating officer (I.O) lacks the brains of Sherlock
holmes , to cover-up his own inefficiency he uses 3rd degree torture on
innocents.
2) When the I.O is biased towards rich , powerful crooks , to frame
innocents & to extract false confessions from them , 3rd degree torture
is used on innocents.
3) When the I.O is properly doing the investigations , but the
higher-ups need very quick results – under work stress I.O uses 3rd
degree torture on innocents.

Nowhere in statuette books , police are legally authorized to punish
let alone torture the detainees / arrested / accussed / suspects. Only
the judiciary has the right to punish the guilty not the police. Even
the judiciary doesn’t have the right to punish the accussed /
suspects , then how come police are using 3rd degree torture unabetted.
Even during encounters , police only have the legal right , authority
to immobilize the opponents so as to arrest them but not to kill them.

There is a reasoning among some sections of society & police that use
of 3RD DEGREE TORTURE by police is a detterent of crimes. It is false
& biased. Take for instance there are numerous scams involving 100’s
of crores of public money – like stock scam , fodder scam , etc
involving rich businessmen , VVIP crooks. Why don’t police use 3rd
degree torture against such rich crooks and recover crores of public
money where as the police use 3rd degree torture against a
pick-pocketer to recover hundred rupees stolen ? double standards by
police.

In media we have seen numerous cases of corrupt police officials in
league with criminals. For the sake of bribe , such police officials
bury cases , destroy evidences , go slow , frame innocents , murder
innocents in the name of encounter , etc. why don’t police use 3rd
degree torture against their corrupt colleagues who are aiding
criminals , anti nationals ? double standards by police.

All the bravery of police is shown before poor , innocents , tribals ,
dalits , before them police give the pose of heroes. Whereas , before
rich , VVIP crooks , they are zeroes. They are simply like scarecrows
before rich crooks.

Torture in any form by anybody is inhuman & illegal. For the purpose of
investigations police have scientific investigative tools like
polygraph, brain mapping , lie detector , etc. these scientific tools
must be used against rich crooks & petty criminals without bias.

Hereby we urge the GOI & all state governments :
1) to book cases of murder against police personnel who use 3rd degree
torture on detainees and kill detainees in the name of encounter
killings.
2) To dismiss such inhuman , cruel personnel from police service and to
forfeit all monetary benefits due to them like gratuity , pension ,
etc.
3) To pay such forfeited amount together with matching government
contribution as compensation to family of the victim’s of 3rd degree
torture & encounter killings.
4) To review , all cases where false confessions were extracted from
innocents by 3rd degree torture.
5) To make liable the executive magistrate of the area , in whose
jurisdiction torture is perpetrated by police on innocents.
6) To make it incumbent on all judicial magistrates ,to provide a
torture free climate to all parties , witnesses in cases before his
court.
7) To make public the amount & source of ransom money paid to forest
brigand veerappan to secure the release of matinee idol mr. raj kumar.
8) To make public justice A.J.Sadashiva’s report on “torture of
tribals , human rights violations by Karnataka police in M.M.HILLS ,
KARNATAKA”.
9) To make it mandatory for police to use scientific tools of
investigations like brain mapping , polygraph , etc without bias
against suspects rich or poor.
10) To include human rights education in preliminary & refresher
training of police personnel.
11) To recruit persons on merit to police force who have aptitude &
knack for investigations.
12) To insulate police from interference from politicians & superiors.
13) To make police force answerable to a neutral apex body instead of
political bosses. Such body must be empowered to deal with all service
matters of police.
14) The political bosses & the society must treat police in a humane
manner and must know that they too have practical limitations. Then on
a reciprocal basis , police will also treat others humanely.
15) The police must be relieved fully from the sentry duties of biggies
& must be put on detective , investigative works.

Nowadays , we are seeing reports of corruption by police & judges in the media
and are also seeing reports of raids by vigilance authorities seizing crores of
wealth from such corrupt police. Some Judges have also amassed crores of wealth.
Who gives them money ? it is rich criminals , anti-nationals . By taking bribe &
hiding the crimes of criminals , the corrupt police & judges are themselves
becoming active parties in the crimes , anti-national activities. Those
shameless , corrupt police & judges are nothing but traitors & anti – nationals
themselves. When an innocent is subjected to 3rd degree torture to extract truth
with justification by investigating agencies that all for the sake of national
security , what degree of torture these corrupt , anti-national police & judges
qualify for ? what type of aeroplane or helicopter the corrupt police / judges
must ride ? ofcourse , for protection of national security. Here also police &
judges have double standards , what a shame.

We at e – voice are for “Rule of Law” & abhor all type of violence. Truly these
police & judges are not building a Ram Rajya of our Mahatma Gandhi’s dream.

Jai Hind. Vande Mataram.

Your’s sincerely,

Nagaraj.M.R.


CRIMINALS IN POLICE UNIFORM
– An appeal to union home minister & Karnataka state home minister

The ABC of police force in India is apathy ,
brutality & corruption . in India, police are not impartially enforcing
law instead are working as hand maidens of rich & mighty. The corrupt
police officers are collecting protection money from criminals ,
collecting money to go slow on investigations , to file B- reports , to
fix innocents in fake cases , to murder innocents in lock-up /
encounters . they are hand in league with land mafia , today C.M of
Karnataka himself issued a warning to police officials about this.
Even in lock-ups , jails, the rich inmates bribe
officials get better food from outside , mobile phones , drugs , drinks
, cigareetes , etc. they get spacious cells & get best private medical
care . where as the poor inmates are even denied food , health care ,
living space as per the provisions of law. The corrupt jail officials
instigate rowdy elements in the jails to assault poor inmates & to toe
their line. More corrupt the police more wealthier he is. Even CBI
officials are no different. The only beacon of hope is still there are
few honest people left in the police force.
Hereby , e-voice urges you to make public the following
information in the interest of justice.

1.how many CBI officials & Karnataka state police officials are facing
charges of corruption , 3rd degree torture , lock-up/encounter deaths
, rapes , fake cases , etc ?

2.how you are monitoring the ever increasing wealth of corrupt police
officials?

3.how many officials from the ranks of constable to DGP have amassed
illegal wealth?

4.what action you have taken in these cases ? have you got
reinvestigated all the cases handled by tainted police?

5.how many policemen have been awarded death penalty & hanged till
death , for cold blooded murders in the form of lock-up deaths /
encounter deaths ?

6.why DGP of Karnataka is not registering my complaint dt 10/12/2004 ,
subsequent police complaints ?
is it because rich & mighty are involved ?

7.e – voice is ready to bring to book corrupt police officials subject to
conditions, are you ready ?

8.how many police personnel are charged with violations of people’s
human rights & fundamental rights ?

9.how many STF police deployed to nab veerappan were themselves
charged with theft of forest wealth?

10.how you are ensuring the safety , health , food , living space of
inmates in jails?

11.how you are ensuring the medical care , health of prisoners in
hospitals & mental asylums?

12.How you are ensuring the safety , health , food , living space of
inmates in juvenile homes ?

TORTURE CHAMBERS OF INDIA

They are our own Gitmos. Where, far away from the eyes of the law, ‘enemies of
the state’ are made to ‘sing’. THE WEEK investigates

By Syed Nazakat

Little Terrorist, as the intelligence sleuths came to call him, turned out to be
a hard nut to crack. No amount of torture would work on 20-year-old Mohammed
Issa, who was picked up from Delhi on February 5, 2006. The Delhi Police
believed that he had a hotline to Lashkar-e-Toiba deputy chief Zaki-ur-Rehman
Lakhwi, who later masterminded the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. At a secret detention
centre in Delhi, the police and intelligence officers tried every single torture
method in their arsenal-from electric shock to sleep deprivation-to make Issa
sing. He stuck to his original line: that he had come from Nepal to visit a
relative in Delhi. Only, they refused believe him.

According to the police, the youth from Uttar Pradesh, who had moved to Nepal in
2000 along with his family after his father, Irfan Ahmed, was accused in a
terrorism case, returned to India to set up Lashkar modules in the national
capital. More than six months after he was picked up, the police announced his
arrest on August 14. He has since been shifted to the Tihar jail. His lawyer
N.D. Pancholi said Issa was kept in illegal custody for months. If not, let the
police say where he was between February 5 and August 15, he challenged.

Issa could have been detained in any of Delhi’s joint interrogation centres,
used by the police and intelligence agencies to extract precious information
from the detainees using methods frowned upon by the law. As one top police
officer told THE WEEK in the course of our investigation, these torture chambers
spread across the country are our “precious assets”. They are our own little
Guantanamo Bays or Gitmos (where the US tortures terror suspects from
Afghanistan and elsewhere for information).

Not many admit their existence, because doing so could result in human rights
activists knocking at their doors and bad press for the smartly dressed
intelligence men. It is a murky and dangerous world, according to K.S.
Subramanian, Tripura’s former director-general of police, who has also served in
the Intelligence Bureau. “Such sites exist and are being used to detain and
interrogate suspected terrorists and it has been going on for a long time,” he
told THE WEEK. “Even senior police officers are reluctant to talk about the
system.” So are people who have been to these virtual hells that officially do
not exist.

THE WEEK has identified 15 such secret interrogation centres-three each in
Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, two in Kolkata and one in Assam.
(One detention centre that is shared by all security and law enforcement
agencies is in Palanpur, Gujarat.) Their locations have been arrived at after
speaking to serving and retired top officers who had helped set up some of these
facilities. Those who have spent time in these places had no idea where they
are. They were taken blindfolded and were allowed no visitors. The only faces
they got to see were those of the interrogators, day in and day out.

The biggest of the three detention centres in Mumbai, the Aarey Colony facility
in Goregaon, has four rooms. The Anti-Terrorism Squad questioned Saeed Khan
(name changed), one of the accused in the Malegaon blasts of September 2006,
here. He was served food at irregular intervals (led to temporary
disorientation) and was denied sleep. Another secret detention centre maintained
in the city by the ATS at Kalachowky has a sound-proof room. Sohail Shaikh,
accused in the July 2006 train bombings, was held here for close to two months.
“He was kept in isolation for days together,” said an officer. “He crumbled
after being subjected to hostile sessions. Intentional infliction of suffering
does not always yield immediate results. Sometimes you have to wait for many
days for the detainee to break. It is a tedious process.” The smallest of the
three facilities at Chembur has just two rooms.

Parvez Ahmed Radoo, 30, of Baramulla district in Kashmir, was illegally detained
in Delhi for over a month for allegedly trying to plot mass murder in the
national capital on behalf of the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Delhi Police’s
chargesheet says he was arrested from the Azadpur fruit market in Delhi on
October 14, 2006. But according to Parvez’s flight itinerary, he travelled from
Srinagar to Delhi on September 12 on SpiceJet flight 850. The flight landed at
Delhi airport at 12.10 p.m. He had to catch another flight at 1.30 p.m.
(SpiceJet flight 217) to Pune, where, according to his parents, he was going to
pursue his Ph.D. But he never boarded the Pune flight as he disappeared from the
Delhi airport.

Parvez wrote an open letter from the Tihar jail, where he is currently held, in
which he said he was arrested from the airport on September 12 and kept in
custody for a month. Apparently, he was first taken to the Lodhi Colony police
station and then to an apartment in Dwarka, where electrodes were attached to
his genitals and power was switched on. (Delhi’s secret detention centres are
located at Dwarka in south-west Delhi, the Inter-state Cell of the Crime Branch
in Chanakyapuri in central Delhi, and the Lodhi Colony police station in south
Delhi.)

“After my arrest on September 12, I was taken to Pune, where I was shown
pictures of many Kashmiri boys,” Parvez said in the letter. “They wanted me to
identify them. As I didn’t know any one of them, they brought me to Delhi again
and threw me into the torture chamber of Lodhi Road [sic] police station. They
took off my clothes and started beating me like an animal, so ruthlessly that my
feet and fingers started bleeding. I was later forced to clean the blood-stained
floor with my underwear. They gave me electric shocks and stretched my legs to
extreme limits, resulting in internal haemorrhage. I started passing blood with
my urine and stool. Later I was shifted to one flat near Delhi airport [he later
identified the place as Dwarka]. From the adjacent flats, voices of crying and
screaming had been coming, indicating presence of other persons being tortured.”

Throughout his detention, wrote Parvez, he was asked to lie to his parents that
everything was fine. In the letter he also gave the mobile number from which the
calls were made-9960565152. His family is trying to collect the call site
details of the number to prove his illegal detention.
Delhi-based journalist Iftikhar Geelani, who spent nine days in the Lodhi Colony
police station after his arrest in 2002 on spying charges, is yet to get over
the traumatic experience. “There are lock-ups with such low ceilings that a
person will not be able to stand,” he said. “There is an interrogation centre
within the police station where people are brutally tortured with cables, and
some are completely undressed and abused. They also have a facility to raise the
temperature of the cell to a point where it is unbearable and then suddenly
bring it down to freezing cold.”

Assistant Commissioner Rajan Bhagat, spokesman for the Delhi Police, denied the
existence of such facilities. “Nobody ever asked me the question [about secret
detention centres],” he said. “We don’t operate any such facility in our police
stations.”
But Maloy Krishna Dhar, former joint director of the IB, confirmed the existence
of secret detention centres in Delhi and other parts of the country. He was
convinced that detention outside the police station and torture are an
inevitable part of the war on terrorism. “Now I would never dream of doing the
things I did when I was in charge,” said Dhar. “But security agencies need such
facilities.” Interrogating suspected terrorists at secret detention centres, he
said, is the most effective way to gather intelligence. “If you produce a
suspect before court, he will never give you anything after that,” he said. In
other words, once you record the arrest you are within the realm of the law and
you have to acknowledge the rights of the accused-arrested and contend with his
lawyer.

An officer who worked in one of the detention centres admitted that extreme
physical and psychological torture, based loosely on the regime in Guantanamo
Bay, is used to extract information from the detainees. It includes assault on
the senses (pounding the ear with loud and disturbing music) and sleep
deprivation, keeping prisoners naked to degrade and humiliate them, and forcibly
administering drugs through the rectum to further break down their dignity. “The
interrogators isolate key operatives so that the interrogator is the only person
they see each day,” he said. “In extreme cases we use pethidine injections. It
will make a person crazy.”

Molvi Iqbal from Uttar Pradesh, a suspected member of the
Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami who is currently lodged in Tihar, was held at a secret
detention centre for two months according to his relatives. They alleged that
during interrogation a chip was implanted under his skin so that his movements
could be tracked if he tried to escape. “He fears that the chip is still inside
his skin,” said one of his relatives. “That has shattered him.”

Kolkata has its own Gitmos in Bhabani Bhawan, now the headquarters of the
Criminal Investigation Department, and the Alipore Retreat in Tollygunj, a
bungalow that is said to have 20 rooms. They were bursting at the seams at the
height of the Naxalite movement, but are more or less quiet now. “A large number
of innocent people, as well as suspected terrorists, have disappeared after
being taken to such secret detention centres,” said Kirity Roy, a Kolkata-based
human rights lawyer. “Their bodies would later be found, if at all, in the
fields.”

That was how militancy was tackled, first in Punjab and then in Kashmir. Today
no secret prison exists in Kashmir officially after the notorious Papa-2
interrogation centre was closed down. But secret torture cells thrive across the
state. The most notorious ones are the Cargo Special Operation Group (SOG) camp
in Haftchinar area in Srinagar and Humhama in Budgam district. Then there are
the joint interrogation centres in Khanabal area of Anantnag district and Talab
Tillo and Poonch areas in Jammu region. Detentions at JICs could last months.
Lawyers in Kashmir have filed 15,000 petitions since 1990 seeking the
whereabouts of the detainees and the charges against them without avail.

The most recent victim of the torture regime was Manzoor Ahmed Beigh, 40, who
was picked by the SOG from Alucha Bagh area in Srinagar on May 18. His family
alleged that he was chained up, hung upside down from the ceiling and ruthlessly
beaten up. He died the same night. Following public outrage, the officer in
charge of the camp was dismissed from the service in June.

Maqbool Sahil, a Srinagar-based photojournalist who was held at Hariniwas
interrogation centre for 15 days, says it is a miracle that he is alive today.
“If you tell them [interrogators] you are innocent, they will torture you so
ruthlessly that you will break down and confess to anything,” he says.
Human rights organisations are understandably concerned. Navaz Kotwal,
coordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said that there should
be an open debate on the illegal detention centres. “The US had a debate on the
Gitmos. Our government should come forward and respond to these allegations,”
she said.

No one wants to compromise the nation’s safety, but the torture becomes
unbearable, and questionable, when innocent people like the 14-year-old boy
Irfan suffer (see box on page 30). The security of the country and its people is
important and terrorism should be crushed at all cost. But the largest democracy
in the world should also ensure that human rights are not violated.

Dhar defended the secret prison system, arguing that the successful defence of
the country required that the security establishment be empowered to hold and
interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without
restrictions imposed by the legal system. “The primary mission of the agencies
is to save the nation both by overt and covert means from any terrorist threat,”
he said. “But to keep the programme secret is a horrible burden.”
with Anupam Dasgupta

Forty secret interrogation cells unveil real face of India [The Nation] 05 Jul,
2009


Worlds oldest democracy United States may have been forced to close Guantanamo
Bay detention centre, but the largest democracy India runs 40 such secret
chambers across the country, where suspects are subjected to extreme
interrogation for months and years.
A leading news magazine The Week in its forthcoming issue, accessed by KT News
Service (KTNS), revealed the horror of torture chambers, far from the eyes of
law.
The investigating team of the magazine identified 15 secret interrogation
centres-three each in Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, two in
Kolkatta and one in Assam. Officials admit that there could be more and roughly
put their numbers at 40. In Palanpur region of Gujarat all security agencies
share one detention centre, the magazine report said. It maintained that mostly
suspects were brought blindfolded so they could hardly pinpoint the place,
adding, the only faces they got to see were those of the interrogators.
The magazine quoted Parvez Ahmed Radoo, 30, of Baramulla district, a student in
Pune University, who was illegally detained in Delhi, as saying that he, in his
open letter, from notorious Tihar jail, wrote that electrodes were attached to
his genitals and power was switched on during interrogation in the centre.
A large number of innocent people, as well as suspected terrorists, have
disappeared after being taken to such secret detention centres, said Kirity Roy,
a Kolkata-based human rights lawyer.
The report further said that in Kashmir, there were many interrogation centres
like the Cargo Special Operation Group (SOG) camp in Haftchinar area in Srinagar
and Humhama in Budgam district.
There are the joint interrogation centres in Khanabal area of Islamabad district
and Talab Tillo in Jammu and one in Poonch.
It said that the lawyers in Kashmir had filed 15,000 petitions since 1990
seeking the whereabouts of the detainees and the charges against them without
avail.
The most recent victim of the torture regime was Manzoor Ahmed Beigh, 40, who
was picked by the SOG from Aloochi Bagh area in Srinagar on May 18. His family
said that he was chained up, hung upside down from the ceiling and ruthlessly
beaten up.
He died the same night.
Quoting KS Subramanian, former Director General of Indian police who had also
served in the Intelligence Bureau, the report said that these sites existed and
were being used to detain and interrogate suspects and it had been going on for
a long time.
An officer, who worked in one of the detention centres admitted that extreme
physical and psychological torture, based loosely on the regime in Guantanamo
Bay, was used to extract information from the detainees.
It included assault on the senses like sleep deprivation, keeping prisoners
naked to degrade and humiliate them, and forcibly administering drugs through
the rectum to further break down their dignity.

In India, Torture by Police Is Frequent and Often Deadly

By Rama Lakshmi

MEERUT, India — Rajeev Sharma, a young electrician, was sleeping when police
barged into his house a month ago and dragged him out of bed on suspicion of a
burglary in the neighborhood, his family recalled.

When his young wife and brother protested, the police, who did not show them an
arrest warrant, said they were taking Sharma to the police station for “routine
questioning.”

“Little did we know that we would lose him forever,” said Sunil Sharma, Rajeev’s
brother, recounting how he died while in police custody. “Their routine
questioning proved fatal,” he added, sitting beside his brother’s grieving
widow.

Rajeev Sharma, 28, died at the police station within a day of his detention.
Police said he committed suicide, but his family charges that he was beaten and
killed.

The case highlights the frequent use of torture and deadly force at local police
stations in India, a practice decried by human rights activists and the Indian
Supreme Court. A little more than a decade after Parliament established the
National Human Rights Commission to deal with such abuses, police torture
continues unabated, according to human rights groups and the Supreme Court.
According to the latest available government data, there were 1,307 reported
deaths in police and judicial custody in India in 2002.

“India has the highest number of cases of police torture and custodial deaths
among the world’s democracies and the weakest law against torture,” said Ravi
Nair, who heads the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center. “The police
often operate in a climate of impunity, where torture is seen as routine police
behavior to extract confessions from small pickpockets to political suspects.”
He said that laws governing police functions were framed under British colonial
rule in 1861 “as an oppressive force designed to keep the population under
control.”

Police records show that, two weeks before his detention, Rajeev Sharma made a
electrician’s service call at the home of a wealthy businessman. On that day,
the man reported that $500 worth of gold jewelry and about $100 in cash were
missing, police said.

After Sharma’s detention, his brother called the police station and was told
that Sharma had confessed to the theft, he said. The brother said he and other
family members rushed to the station and were able to see Sharma briefly.

“His eyes were red, his mouth was bleeding and he could hardly walk. They had
beaten him very badly. That was the last glimpse we had,” said Sunil Sharma, 35.
“By the evening, the police informed us that he had committed suicide in the
lockup by hanging himself with a blanket. The suicide story is a coverup; my
brother died of police torture.”

The death in police custody sparked two days of rioting and protests in Meerut,
about 45 miles from New Delhi, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Angry
residents surrounded and threw stones at the police station, burned police
vehicles and blocked traffic.

Thousands participated in Sharma’s funeral procession; protesters demanded an
open inquest by a panel of physicians and the immediate arrests of those
responsible.

Police conducted an autopsy in private, lawyers close to the case said. But
authorities did issue arrest warrants for the man who said he had been robbed
and for six police officers, an apparent reaction to the unusual popular outcry,
family members and lawyers said. The merchant is in jail, alleged to have
participated in beating Sharma, but the police officers apparently have fled,
authorities said.

Although the Indian government signed the international Convention Against
Torture in 1997, it has not ratified the document. Some members of Parliament
have argued against ratification, saying they oppose international scrutiny and
asserting that Indian laws have adequate provisions to prevent torture. Human
rights advocates said Uttar Pradesh ranks highest among Indian states in the
incidence of police torture and custodial deaths.

Some police officers justify the use of torture to extract confessions and
instill fear.

“The police in India are under tremendous pressure, as people need quick
results. So we have to pick up and interrogate a lot of people. Sometimes things
get out of control,” said Raghuraj Singh Chauhan, a newly assigned officer at
the station where Rajeev Sharma died. “After all, confessions cannot be
extracted with love. The fear of the police has to be kept alive — how else
would you reduce crime?” he added, fanning himself with a police file folder.

A senior police officer in Meerut, on condition of anonymity, openly discussed
torture methods with a visiting reporter. One technique, he said, involves a
two-foot-long rubber belt attached to a wooden handle.

“We call this thing samaj sudharak,” the officer said, smiling, using the Hindi
phrase for social reformer. “When we hit with this, there are no fractures, no
blood, no major peeling of the skin. It is safe for us, as nothing shows up in
the postmortem report. But the pain is such that the person can only appeal to
God. He will confess to anything.”

Last September, in a written ruling in a case of police misconduct, the Supreme
Court criticized the use of torture. “The dehumanizing torture, assault and
death in custody which have assumed alarming proportions raise serious questions
about the credibility of the rule of law and administration of the criminal
justice system,” the court said. “The cry for justice becomes louder and
warrants immediate remedial measure.”

In addition, the severity of the torture problem is probably worse than
statistics indicate, because victims, fearing reprisals, rarely report cases
against the police, human rights advocates said.

“About 40 percent of custodial torture cases are not even reported. They are
just grateful for God’s mercy that they are alive and free,” said Pradeep Kumar,
a human rights lawyer who has represented police torture victims in Uttar
Pradesh. “Torture sometimes leads to permanent disability, psychological trauma,
loss of faculties.”

The National Human Rights Commission, led by a retired Supreme Court justice,
has faced criticism that it is too dependent on the government and lacks
enforcement power.

“We have not been able to build a human rights culture in the police force,”
said Shankar Sen, a former police officer and an ex-member of the commission.
“It is not only individual aberration but a matter of systemic failure.”

The commission has ordered that cameras be installed in police stations to
monitor and deter police brutality.

“In the past year we have spent about $600,000 to equip most of the police
stations in New Delhi with a camera. This will make police functioning
transparent and have a big impact on torture,” said Maxwell Pereira, a senior
police official in the capital.

But critics and families of victims said they had not seen changes. In a
much-publicized case in New Delhi last fall, five policemen were charged with
beating and killing Sushil Kumar Nama at a police station.

Nama had been detained on suspicion that he was working with neighborhood
gamblers. Four of the police officers were arrested in April, but one remains at
large, authorities said. Police officials denied that Nama was tortured, saying
he died of a heart attack after he was released from custody.

“My two children are so traumatized that now they run home scared every time
they see a policeman on the street,” said Nama’s wife, Rekha, 29. “They know
that danger lurks behind that uniform. They are not policemen, they are wolves.”

On the wrong side of law

By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

Chunchun Kumar

Chunchun Kumar’s wound is still raw

For Chunchun Kumar of Bihar’s Nawada district, it was just another evening as he
lounged around at a tea stall in his village along with a friend.

But, then something happened that changed his life.

“It was 17 March of this year. There were six of them. When we first saw them,
they were beating up the temple priest. He was lying on the ground, they were
kicking and punching him,” Kumar says.

“Then they started hitting two other men. Then they came into the tea shop and
they beat us black and blue. Then they fired at us.”

Kumar lifts up his shirt to show a bullet mark on his abdomen. The wound is
still oozing.

The perpetrators were no ordinary criminals.

Says Kumar, “They were all policemen. I don’t know why they were angry. They
were all drunk, they were like drunk elephants, they went on a rampage.”

The shocked villagers complained to the police authorities, and the offending
policemen were suspended from duty and arrested.

‘Very serious’

Additional director general of police in Bihar Anil Sinha confirmed the
incident.

“Two of the policemen who were inebriated vandalised the tea shop and began
firing despite protests from their other colleagues. They were arrested and,
although they have been released on bail, they are facing criminal charges.”

Kumar’s fight for justice recently brought him to the Indian capital, Delhi,
where he narrated his story at India’s first National People’s Tribunal on
Torture.

Activists say torture by police is rampant in India.

“The problem of torture is very serious. Today we have around 1.8 million cases
of police torture each year in India,” says Henri Tiphagne of People’s Watch, an
NGO.

Policemen in India

The police are often a law unto themselves, say campaigners

Mr Tiphagne says the victims mostly are from the poorer sections of society.

“They are generally the (low-caste) Dalits, the tribals and the Muslims. And
torture is used by those who are in power, those who possess, the landlords and
the companies who put pressure on the police to carry out torture,” Mr Tiphagne
says.

Mr Anil Sinha says cases of human rights violations involving the police are
“exaggerated” by activists.

“It’s a kind of stereotype being dished out by the NGOs and activists. And
because police have a bad reputation, so people take such allegations to be
correct.

“We do not condone any human rights violations by police in any manner, and such
cases are rare. We have a mechanism in place to deal with such cases and
penalise the guilty,” Mr Sinha says.

Shankar Sen, a retired police officer and former member of the human rights
commission, says: “The policeman’s work is very complex, there are pressure on
him to deliver results, the police are exposed to extraneous influences and
pressures.”

But, he says, that does not condone torture. “It’s illegal, and as a policeman I
know it doesn’t work.”

Mr Sen admits that police torture is prevalent. “Torture does take place, it’s
very common, but it’s unacceptable. Some allegations against the police are
shocking.”

Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch says nearly every police station in
India can be held guilty of torture.

‘Arbiter of justice’

In many parts of the country, she says, the situation is so bad that people will
not got to a police station to file a case fearing prosecution and retribution.

“There is this pattern of impunity. The fact that police believe they can get
away with it has added to the problem,” Ms Ganguly says.

“The greater problem is that an average policeman believes himself to be the
arbiter of justice. Instead of going to the court, he himself is delivering
justice.

Arun Kumar with parents PP Raju and Lakshmi

Arun Kumar’s mental age has been reduced to one year

“The policeman is not supposed to punish the criminal, he is supposed to catch
the criminal,” she says.

For the victims of torture and their families, it is a long haul.

Arun Kumar of the southern city of Bangalore was picked up by the police after
his employer suspected him of having an affair with his wife.

Kumar’s parents, PP Raju and Lakshmi, say their family home was ransacked, Kumar
was taken to the police station where he was beaten up and tortured for days.

Unable to bear the pain and the trauma, Kumar drank pesticides in an attempt to
kill himself.

He survived, but his parents say their son’s mental age has been reduced to one
year – he is on medication and requires constant care.

The guilty policeman was suspended for a week, but reinstated later. The family
has a long fight ahead of them.

‘Deterrence’

Says Mr Tiphagne, “A case I initiated in 1981 ended in 2007 with the dismissal
of the officer. So I have hope in Arun Kumar’s case too.”

But, he says, this long wait can be a huge deterrence for even the most
determined.

Henri Tiphagne of People’s Watch.

Mr Tiphagne says nearly 2 million cases of torture take place in India every
year

“The torture at the police station ends, but the torture of institutions
continues. It’s more of a psychological and mental nature, it is very
challenging. Most people don’t have the courage to withstand that, very few
survive that,” Mr Tiphagne says.

So while the victims continue to live with the trauma, most of the perpetrators
get away.

They are also emboldened by the fact that India has no clear law on torture.

The country signed the UN Convention on Torture in 1997, but even 10 years
later, it has not ratified it.

“We have to change our culture. We have to create awareness that torture is
illegal. The civil society will have to get involved,” says Meenakshi Ganguly.

“People will have to get past the fact that torture happens only to other
people. And once that happens, it will change,” she says.

<a title=”View Police Torture and Police Reform on Scribd”
href=”http://www.scribd.com/doc/11283133/Police-Torture-and-Police-Reform
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INDIA: No to torture, establish rule of law!

The first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru said “Police is standing
on a quadrilateral from where they can protect and also violate human rights?”
But it seems that his words are of no use in India today since there is an
enormous increase in the incidents of police torture during past few decades.

It is apparent that police is the largest agency constituted with the purpose of
establishing the rule of law and human rights. One can read into the Indian
Penal Code, with certain difficulty, the prohibition against torture. Statements
recorded from witnesses under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code are not
blindly admissible in a criminal trial. If the law is so, the next obvious
question is then why do the police resort to torture?

The main reasons are feudal and colonial structure of police, scarcity of
resources in the police department, political intervention and the lack of an
independent agency to investigate the crimes committed by the police themselves.
Modern investigation is unheard of within the police department. In addition,
India’s feudal society condones the use of torture.

The definition of torture as envisaged in the UN Convention Against Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as an
“act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a
third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third
person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or
coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any
kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or
with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in
an official capacity.”

Section 176 (A) of Cr.P.C. have provisions for the investigation in the each
case of custodial death. However, this section is not used in any case in the
entire Uttar Pradesh state. Neither have any Magistrates issued search warrants
under Section 97 of Cr.P.C. when persons were taken into illegal custody.

The Supreme Court of India had issued guidelines to be followed by
law-enforcement officers at the time of arrest and questioning in the case D.K
Basu vs. West Bengal. It is mandatory for the law-enforcement agencies to
follow, but is been negated in the state. Regarding encounter killings, the
National Human Rights Commission has directed the country’s police to register
cases in every case of reported encounter killings. The Commission has also
directed to send it a video of the post-mortem examination in each case of
custodial death. This also is not followed in the state and to the information
of the PVCHR anywhere in the country. The question than is what is the value of
the Supreme Court and the NHRC in the country?

There is a provision for interim relief to be awarded as compensation under
Section 19 of Human Right Act. Article 21 of Indian Constitution guarantees the
right to life with dignity, which is also against torture. But torture
continues unabated in the state. Do laws in the country have any meaning then?

If we look at the statistics, it is mostly the poor, the marginalised, the
Dalits and the members of the minority and backward communities are subjected to
torture. Those who have mafia gangs and known antisocial elements are not
victims of this, cruel practice other than some rare occasions. Only the
ordinary people are afraid of the police and the torture they practice. So does
India have two types of citizens — the one with rights and those who do not
have them?

Police along with the criminals have established the rule of the lords.
Corruption and discrimination are no more mere practices, but the second nature
of the police. Rule of law can be established without preventing police torture.
Let us come together to enlighten ourselves and fight against torture to stop it
and thus establish rule of law.

What you can do?

1) Protest on 26th June against the practice of torture by street plays,
organising discussions and sending letters to the Prime Minister, and through
press releases in newspapers condemning torture and inform us what you did;
2) Indian Government has signed the UN Convention in 1997 but has failed to
ratify it. Send letters to the Prime Minister and the President of India asking
them to require the government to accede the convention;
3) In protest of the cases of torture happening right under the nose of the
National Human Rights Commission, organise a protest in front of the Commission;
4) Write letters to the editor of publications condemning torture;
5) To sensitize the people about torture and its forms, take down cases that
you come across and send it to us so that we could follow it up on your behalf;
6) Write to the Supreme Court asking why its orders and guidelines are not
followed;
7) Write to the government urging the government to provide resources to the
police to function properly.

Thank you

Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
Convener – PVCHR
SA 4/2 A, Daulatpur
221002Varanasi
INDIA
Telephone: +91-9935599333
E-mail: pvchr.india@…

Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib… Bagram?
INVESTIGATION: US detention centre under suspicion as eerily familiar claims OF torture and rendition flights surface from the airbase on the outskirts of
Kabul.   by Ian Pannell, BBC Afghanistan Correspondent

NOOR HABIB’S hands shake as he draws a picture of how he says he was abused. He
claims that he was taken to a small, darkened cell where his arms were tied to
the ceiling and he was made to stand in waist-deep water for six hours at a
time.

[Mohammad Nasim says he was asked if he knew Osama Bin laden.]Mohammad Nasim
says he was asked if he knew Osama Bin laden.

He says he was beaten, threatened with dogs, and deprived of sleep. He also
claims there was nothing unusual about his treatment, “everyone else has the
same story”.

Habib was an inmate at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, an American
military detention center outside Kabul. Now, for the first time, detailed
allegations of widespread abuse and neglect have been made about this top-secret
camp.

“I didn’t think a prison like Bagram ever existed on earth. It is a place that
has no rules or law,” says Sabrullah, another ex-inmate.

Over a period of more than two months, we tracked down 27 former detainees.
There were others, but they were afraid to speak or had been warned not to. Just
two said they had been treated well. Many allegations of ill-treatment appear
repeatedly in the interviews; physical abuse, the use of stress positions,
excessive heat or cold, unbearably loud noise, being forced to remove clothes in
front of female soldiers and in four cases, being threatened with death at
gunpoint.

The account of an inmate known as Dr Khandan is one of the most harrowing. He
says he was kept in isolation for months and treated worse than an animal: “They
deprived us of sleep, they put us in a cold room and turned the air conditioning
on and would take away the blanket. They poured cold water on you in winter and
hot water in summer. They used dogs against us. They put a pistol to your head
and threatened you with death. They put some kind of medicine in the water to
make you sleepless and then they would interrogate you.”

All the men who spoke to us were interviewed in isolation and they were all
asked the same questions. They were held at times between 2002 and 2008 and they
were all accused of belonging to or helping al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

None of the inmates were charged with any offense or put on trial; some even
received apologies when they were released. While none of the allegations can be
independently verified, the ill-treatment they describe also appears in an
inquiry by US Senators into the handling of detainees in US custody, and they
match the findings of interviews with ex-inmates conducted by human-rights
organizations and legal groups. They are very similar to the methods that were
used at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“The conditions at Bagram were harder than Guantanamo,” says Taj Mohammed. The
camp has held thousands of people over the last eight years and a new
multi-million dollar detention center is currently under construction.

Most of the inmates are Afghans but some were captured abroad and brought here
under a process known as “extraordinary rendition”, including at least two
Britons. The Obama administration says they are dangerous men and it classifies
them as “terrorist suspects” and “enemy combatants” rather than “prisoners of
war”.

It is a legal classification that critics say deliberately denies inmates access
to lawyers or the right to appeal or even complain about their treatment.

The Pentagon has denied the charges and it insists that all inmates are treated
humanely. We were not allowed to visit Bagram, nor was anyone made available for
an interview. Instead, a spokesman for the US Secretary of Defense responded to
written questions. Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wright insisted that conditions at
Bagram meet international standards for care and custody. In a statement, he
said: “Department of Defense policy is and always has been to treat detainees
humanely. There have been well-documented instances where that policy was not
followed, and service members have been held accountable for their actions.”

The US military said it would investigate any serious claims of abuse, but none
of the men interviewed had been made aware of any formal complaints procedure.

But another former inmate, known as Mirwais, said: “They have no respect for
human beings. They blame others for violating human rights. You just go and see
how they violate human rights.”

Since coming to office, president Barack Obama has banned the use of torture and
ordered a review of its policy on detainees, which is expected to report next
month. But unlike Guantanamo Bay, the prisoners at Bagram have no access to
lawyers and they cannot challenge their detention.

Tina Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, a legal
support group which is bringing a test case in the States to try to win
representation for four detainees, says the inmates at Bagram are being kept in
“a legal black hole, without access to lawyers or courts”.

She is pursuing legal action that, if successful, would grant detainees the same
rights as those still being held at Guantanamo Bay, but the Obama administration
is trying to block the move.

Last summer, the US Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantanamo should be
given legal rights. Speaking on the campaign trail, Obama applauded the ruling:
“The Court’s decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration’s attempt to
create a legal black hole at Guantanamo. This is an important step toward
re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and
rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas
corpus.”

Foster accuses Obama of abandoning that position and “using the same arguments
as the Bush White House”.

In its legal submissions, the US Justice Department argues that because
Afghanistan is an active combat zone it is not possible to conduct rigorous
inquiries into individual cases and that it would divert precious military
resources at a crucial time. Pentagon spokesman Wright says: “Detention during
wartime is not criminal punishment and therefore does not require that
individuals be charged or tried in a court of law.”

Obama has also ruled against an earlier decision to release photos that show
abuse of prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan.

Ex-inmate Esmatullah says he has trouble breathing when he thinks about Bagram,
he gets nervous at the very mention of its name. Like many others, he also
claims that he was beaten and threatened during interrogation: “The Afghan
translator told me he has orders to take out my eyes, break my legs and hands. I
said I am not afraid of dying. Then he hit me with a stick so hard that I had
severe pains in my back for a month and a half.”

Unlike Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, Bagram has received scant attention so
far. The men would like an official apology, recognition of the abuse they say
they have suffered and compensation.

These revelations come at a time when president Obama is trying to re-set
America’s relationship with the Muslim world and he is redoubling US efforts to
win the war in Afghanistan. It is a controversy that has already attracted much
attention in the Afghan and Pakistan media and seriously threatens to tarnish
the image of the new Obama administration on both sides of this troubled border.

INDIA: Structural breakdown of the justice system must be addressed

The reports that appeared yesterday in the Indian media quoting ‘informed
sources’ that the Tamil Nadu state police has decided not to produce detainees
in courts exposes the extent to which the justice institutions have broken down
in India. According to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 it is
the statutory duty of the state police to assist the courts in the country for
its day-to-day functioning. It is also mandatory for the police to produce the
detainees remanded to judicial custody before the courts, as and when required
by the courts. Any decision by the police, express or implied, against this
official duty must not go unpunished.

The decision of the Tamil Nadu state police is a wilful dereliction of official
responsibility, negation of judicial supremacy and the very function of the
police in maintaining law and order. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) and
its sister concern the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have been
continuously reporting instances suggesting the systematic breakdown of rule of
law in India, particularly concerning the police. The decision by the state
police of Tamil Nadu to disregard the provisions of law, substantiates ALRC’s
position that there are apparent and deep-rooted problems affecting the rule of
law in India.

Lawyers engaged in professional misconduct, judges failing to perform duties and
police officers committing crimes, assaulting persons and destroying property
have become the defining characters of the justice dispensation system in the
country. The structural breakdown is apparent. Yet, instead of gearing up to
repair the ruptures, it appears that the government is forcing the people to get
used to the reality.

The approval by the Government of India for recruiting, training and deploying
Salwa Judum, in Chhattisgarh state, in the excuse of countering Naxalite
activities in that state is an example. Salwa Judum is nothing but an armed
mercenary group operating with impunity in Chhattisgarh. The Chhattisgarh state
administration finds it convenient to arm a faction of organised civilians to
fight anti-state movements like the Naxalites. By promoting Salwa Judum, the
state is trying to absolve from its responsibility of maintaining law and order
in its territory.

The Government of India, instead of preventing the Chhattisgarh state
administration from continuing with the deployment of Salwa Judum, insisted yet
another state administration, the Manipur state government, to resort to similar
tactics in 2008. The same practice was implemented years ago in the state of
Jammu and Kashmir during the time of rightwing BJP led government in India.
Neither in Jammu and Kashmir, nor in Chhattisgarh or in Manipur, has the
situation improved since then.

In the past two years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of
extra-judicial executions reported from India. In the Indian context, such
murders are referred to as ‘encounter killings’. As of now, there is no legal
framework in the country by which an impartial enquiry and investigation is
possible in a case of encounter killing. The practice is, a superior officer and
later the court, accepts a report sent in by the police involved in the murder
and no further action is initiated. The murder is often rewarded by the
administration, so much so, there are more than three dozen ‘encounter
specialists’ serving as police officers in various parts of the country.

Impunity for the police to murder and the lack of punishment trivialises the
practice of custodial torture in the country. The practice of torture is
widespread and is accepted as an essential requirement for law enforcement.

On June 15 this year, the Speaker of the Kerala State Legislative Assembly, Mr.
K. Radhakrishnan, declared at the annual conference of police officers of the
state, that the use of third-degree methods by the state police cannot be
condemned. The Speaker during his keynote address argued that it is ridiculous
to insist that the police officers in India respect human rights. According to
him, it is difficult to do policing and respect human rights at the same time.
He made it clear that when the police investigate a crime, it is natural and
often required for the investigating officer to use torture to prove the case.
Among those listening to these remarks were the Director of the State Police
Training College and the Director General of Police.

Breach of law by the law enforcement agencies in the country meets no bounds.
Corruption, nepotism and the disregard to the law flourish within state
agencies, particularly in the police. The society quiver under the writ of fear
when the law enforcement agents commit crimes with impunity. In spite of
repeated and legitimate requests from national and international human rights
groups and the thematic mandates holders of the UN like the Special Rapporteur
on the question of torture, the Government of India has failed to criminalise
the practice of torture or to ratify the Convention against Torture.

In fact, the government has failed in implementing the directives of its own
Supreme Court. The directives of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case are
yet to be implemented in the country. The implementation of the Court’s
directives is important for improving the state of policing in India, since half
of the issues concerning the police, including the practice of torture and
participation in crimes by the police officers, are carried out at the behest of
corrupt politicians in the country. Having a law against torture while the
ultimate writ above the police entrusted with a corrupt politician will not
improve policing in India.

It is in this context that the protest called in by the Tamil Nadu state police
becomes relevant in exposing and addressing the situation of rule of law in
India. The very fact that the police can intentionally negate the supremacy of
law shows the vacuum of authority in the country. The incident illuminates the
impunity that the police have enjoyed so far that they have now dared to openly
challenge judicial supremacy.

Instead of actively engaging in the situation, the Tamil Nadu state government
has allowed the police to continue with their follies. The police action on
February 19 inside the compound of Madras High Court that injured police
officers, lawyers, judges, court staff and ordinary persons is not of such
triviality that it could be resolved by a fast declared by the state Chief
Minister. The police-lawyer confrontation and the subsequent sequels of
non-cooperation between three important limbs of the justice dispensation system
of the country is not an issue that can be camouflaged with political gimmicks
and ignored.

The February 19 incident is the clarion call for intervention by a system, which
is left to breakdown and disintegrate. The subsequent protest orchestrated by
the state police refusing cooperation to the functioning of the judiciary is a
failure of the constitutional machinery that require a legitimate intervention
by the Government under Article 356 of the Indian Constitution. The failure of
the Government of India to take affirmative actions to correct and revitalise
its criminal justice system poses legitimate challenges to India’s democracy and
the country’s position in the UN Human Rights Council.

Edited, printed , published owned by NAGARAJA.M.R. @ # LIG-2  No  761,HUDCO FIRST STAGE ,

OPP WATER WORKS , LAXMIKANTANAGAR , HEBBAL ,MYSORE – 570017  KARNATAKA 

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