Supreme Court of India orders Bihar-like prison inspections in all other states

Supreme Court of India orders Bihar-like prison inspections in all other states

The Supreme Court of India has passed a judgement today regarding inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons. In reaching its decision, the Court took into account inter alia my Bihar report and ordered prison inspections similar to those I conducted in Bihar in 2015.

I discussed this judgement with Live Law in September 2017 in an interview published under a tagline ‘Open Prison Has The Potential To Eradicate Retributive Form Of Punishment‘. In particular, I said:

There are two take-aways from this judgement- compensation for death in custody and the courts’ encouragement to the open prison system. However, there are several more layers to the judgement. It is  significant because it has brought back attention on the issue of custodial violence, custodial deaths and addressed the problem directly leaving nothing to ambiguity. The judgement primarily reasserts that the constitutional rights of the prisoner do not stand eclipsed under imprisonment and clamps down on the authorities for its failure in addressing the issues of custodial violence and custodial deaths.

The judgement reminds the state that custodial death (natural or unnatural) is itself a crime and critiques the dehumanization involved in narrating custodial deaths through elaborate statistics, when in reality year after year no change is observed on ground. The judgement recognises the prisoner who died an unnatural death in custody as the victim and emphasizes the need for compensation, an argument that has long remained in the back burners.