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Synopsis on

Prisoners rights UNDER Article 21


Submitted towards the partial fulfilment of grading for the 3rd semester of
B.A.LLB(H) course for the subject

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Submitted To:

Submitted By:

Mr .Hemant Singh

Shubhendu Shukla &

Professor

Ankilesh Kumar

Galgotias University

B.A.LLB(H)
2ND Year/3rd Semester
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
S.N.

Contents

Page No.

1.

Area of the Research

2.

Subject of the Research

3.

Topic of the Research

4.

Significance of Research

5.

Object of the Study

6.

Justification of the study

7.

Scope of Study

8.

Hypothesis

9.

Research Objectives

10.

Research Questions

11.

Research Methodology

12.

Chapterization:

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Chapter-I -

Introduction

Chapter-II -

Right to Legal Aid

Chapter-III -

Right to Speedy Trial

Chapter-IV -

Right against Solitary Confinement,


Handcuffing & Bar Fetters and
Protection from Torture
Chapter-V - Right to meet friends and Consult Lawyer

Chapter-VI - Right to Reasonable Wages in Prison

Chapter-VII - Suggestions

13. Conclusion

8-9

14. Bibliography and References

AREA OF RESEARCH:
This research work comes under the area of Constitutional Law.

SUBJECT OF RESEARCH:
The subject of Prisoners rights and Article 21 is dealt in this project.

TOPIC OF RESEARCH:
This paper is written on the topic Prisoners rights and Article 21.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESEARCH:
This research is pertinent as when finished it will be of imminence use for protection and
prisoner rights under article 21 as prisoner right are one of the essential and vital part of the
constitution and this paper will analyze the pros and cons of the current Indian Prison system
and prisoners right and it may facilitate the government to make decisions regarding change
in current prison system of India, if required.

OBJECT OF THE STUDY:


The object of the research is to identify and examine the Right of Prisoners under Article 21
through an in-depth study of Article 21.

JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY:


The proposed study is done after observing the current system of prisoners right in India. A
significant number of changes have been brought by the government in the improving the
system of prisons over a period of time, but still there are many needs in current system,
hence, it requires further reforms to be brought. Now days, atrocities and violence in the
custody to the prisoners are increasing. Therefore, this study is undertaken keeping in mind
the contemporary relevance of the topic.
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SCOPE OF STUDY:
This research intends to include all the related crite ria of the topic. It will deal with prisoners
right in India under article 21 of Indian Constitution and to study the importance of this
article. Until now significant number of changes are already brought in the prison system in
India and the pursuance of the new reforms and law is still proposed by the government of
India which when implemented will be the boon for the prisoners who are there in the
prisoners. Facilities such as food quality, sanitary facilities would improve a lot. Prison
System in India needs a great deal of the attention of the government of India which when
emphasized and look after will improve the conditions of prisons in India.

HYPOTHESIS:
The rights of the prisoners in Indian prisons are not codified and are at the mercy of the
prison administration which results in their exploitation on a everyday basis.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

To understand the importance of article 21 of the constitution.

To trace out the custodial violence in the prisons

To understand the rights of the prisoners under article 21 of the constitution.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the relevance of Article 21 with prisoners and their respective rights?
2. What is the scope of article 21?
3. What is Right to Legal Aid?
4. What landmark case brought about major changes in the rights of prisoners?
5. What are the various rights of a prisoner provided to him by the constitution?

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY:
This research is proposed to be based on Books, Articles, Case laws (if any) and Websites.
Hence, the methodology used for the research of this topic is analytical and deductive.

INTRODUCTION:
Less than 200 years ago, the attitude to prisons, prisoners and punishment was brutal and
barbaric. Recognition of the human being in the convicted offender is an idea that has been
accepted after a long struggle with the state.
The Indian socio- legal system is based on non-violence, mutual respect and human dignity of
the individual. If a person commits any crime, it does not mean that by committing a crime,
he ceases to be a human being and that he can be deprived of those aspects of life which
constitutes human dignity. Even the prisoners have human rights because the prison torture is
not the bearable by anyone. For a prisoner all fundamental rights are an enforceable reality,
though restricted by the fact of imprisonment.
Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right of personal liberty and thereby prohibits
any inhuman, cruel or degrading treatments to any person whether he is a national or
foreigner. Any violation of this right attracts the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution
which enshrines right to equality and equal protection of law. In addition to this, the question
of cruelty to prisoners is also dealt with specifically by the Prison Act, 1894. If any excesses
are committed on a prisoner, the prison administration is responsible for that. Any excesses
committed on a prisoner by the police authorities not only attracts the attention of the
legislature but also of the judiciary. The Indian judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court in
the recent past has been very vigilant against encroachments upon the human rights of the
prisoners.

Right to Legal Aid:

The talk of human rights would become meaningless unless a person is provided with legal
aid to enable him to have access to justice in case of violation of his human rights. This a
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formidable challenge in the country of Indias size and heterogeneity where more than half of
the population lives in far-flung villages steeped in poverty, destitution and illiteracy. Legal
aid is no longer a matter of charity or benevolence but is one of the constitutional rights and
the legal machinery itself is expected to deal specifically with it. The basic philosophy of
legal aid envisages that the machinery of administration of justice should be easily accessible
and should not be out of the reach of those who have to resort to it for the enforcement of
their legal rights. In fact legal aid offers a challenging opportunity to the society to redress
grievances

of

the

poor

and

thereby

law

foundation

of

Rule

of

Law.

In India, judiciary has played an important role in developing the concept of legal aid and
expanding its scope so as to enable the people to have access to courts in case of any
violation of their human rights. In the case of M.H. Wadanrao Hoskot v. State of
Maharashtra 1 , the Court held that the right to legal aid is one of the ingredients of fair
procedure.
If a prisoner sentenced to imprisonment, is virtually unable to exercise his constitutional and
statutory right of appeal, for want of legal assistance, there is implicit in the court under
article 142 read with article 21 and 39-A of the Constitution, power to assign council for such
imprisoned individual for doing complete justice. Where the prisoner is disabled from
engaging a lawyer, on reasonable grounds such as indigence or incommunicado situation, the
court shall, if the circumstances of the case, the gravity of the sentence, and the ends of
justice so required, assign competent counsel for the prisoners defence, provided the party
doesnt object to that lawyer.

Right to Speedy Trial:

Right to Speedy Trial is a fundamental right of a prisoner implicit in article 21 of the


constitution. It ensures just, fair and reasonable procedure. The fact that a speedy trial is also
in public interest or that it serves the social interest also, does not make it any the less right

M.H. Wadanrao Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1978 SC 544

of accused. It is in the interest of all concerned that the guilt or innocence of the accused is
determined as quickly as possible in the circumstances.
In the case of Raj Deo Sharma v. The State of Bihar 2 , the question before the court was
whether on the facts and circumstances of the case, the prosecution against the petitioner is to
be quashed on the ground of delay in the conduct of trial. The petitioner has never suffered
incarceration. His application for bail was ord ered on the day he appeared before the Court
and presented the same. Allowing the appeal Supreme Court gave the following directions:
1. In cases where the trial is for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a
period not exceeding seven years, whether the accused is in jail or not, the court
shall close the prosecution evidence on completion of a period of two years from
the date of recording the plea of the accused on the charges framed whether the
prosecution has examined all the witnesses or not, within the said period and the
court can proceed to the next step provided by law for the trial of the case.

2. In such cases as mentioned above, if the accused has been in jail for a period of
not less than one half of the maximum period of punishment prescribed for the
offence, the trial court shall release the accused on bail forthwith on such
conditions as it deems fit.

3. If the offence under trial is punishable with imprisonment for a period


exceeding 7 years, whether the accused is in jail or no t, the court shall close the
prosecution evidence on completion of three years from the date of recording the
plea of the accused on the charge framed, whether the prosecution has examined
all the witnesses or not within the said period and the court can proceed to the next
step provided by law for the trial of the case.

Raj Deo Sharma v The State of Bihar AIR 1998 SC 507

Right against Solitary Confinement, Handcuffing & Bar Fetters and


Protection from Torture:

Solitary Confinement in a general sense means the separate confinement of a prisoner, with
only occasional access of any other person, and that too only at the discretion of the jail
authorities. In strict sense it means the complete isolation of a prisoner from all human
society.
Torture is regarded by the police/investigating agency as normal pract ice to check
information regarding crime, the accomplice, extract confession. Police officers who are
supposed to be the protector of civil liberties of citizens themselves violate precious rights of
citizens. But torture of a human being by another human is essentially an instrument to
impose the will of the strong over the weak. Torture is a wound in the soul so painful that
sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also so intangible that there is no way to heel it.
An arrested person or under-trial prisoner should not be subjected to handcuffing in the
absence of justifying circumstances. When the accused are found to be educated persons,
selflessly devoting their service to public cause, not having tendency to escape and tried and
convicted for bailable offence, there is no reason for handcuffing them while taking them
from prison to court.
There must be material, sufficiently stringent, to satisfy a reasonable mind that there is clear
and present danger of escape of the prisoner who is being transported by breaking out of
police control. Even when in extreme circumstances, handcuffs have to be put on prisoner,
the escorting authority must record contemporaneously the reasons for doing so. The judicial
officer before whom the prisoner is produced has to interrogate the prisoner, as a rule,
whether he has been subjected to handcuffs and other iron treatments and if he has been, the
official concerned shall be asked to explain the action forthwith.
In the case of D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal 3 , the Court treating the letter addressed to
the Chief justice as a writ petition made the following order:

D.K. Basu v. State of W est Bengal AIR 1997 SC 416

In almost every States there are allegations and these allegations are now increasing in
frequency of deaths in custody described generally by newspapers as lock- up deaths. At
present there does not appear to be any machinery to effectively deal with such allegations.
Since this is an all India question concerning all States, it is desirable to issue notices to all
the State Governments to find out whether they are desire to say anything in the matter. Let
notices issue to all the State Government. Let notice also issue to the Law Commission of
India with a request that suitable suggestions may be made in the matter. Notice be made
returnable in two months from today.
Custodial torture is a naked violation of human dignity and degradation which destroys, to a
very large extent, the individual personally. It is a calculated assault on human dignity and
whenever human dignity is wounded, civilisation takes a step backward. Fundamental rights
occupy a place of pride in the Indian Constitution. Article 21 provides no person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Personal liberty, thus, is a sacred and cherished right under the Constitution. The
expression life or personal liberty has been held to include the right to live with human
dignity and thus it would also include within itself a guarantee against torture and assault by
the State or its functionaries. Article 22 guarantees protection against arrest and detention in
certain cases and declares that no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without
being informed of the grounds of such arrest and he shall not be denied the right to consult
and defend himself by a legal practitioner of his choice.

Right to meet friends and Consult Lawyer:

The horizon of human rights is expanding. Prisoners rights have been recognized not only to
protect them from physical discomfort or torture in the prison but also to save them from
mental torture.
In the case of Sunil Batra(II) v. Delhi Administration 4 , the Supreme Court recognized the
right of the prisoners to be visited by their friends and relatives. The court favoured their
visits but subject to search and discipline and other security criteria. The court observed:
4

Sunil Batra(II) v. Delhi Administration AIR 1979 SC 625

Visits to prisoners by family and friends are a solace in insulation, and only a dehumanized
system can derive vicarious delight in depriving prison inmates of this humane amenity.

Right to Reasonable Wages in Prison:

Remuneration, which is not less than the minimum wages, has to be paid to anyone who has
been asked to provide labour or service by the state. The payment has to be equivalent to the
service rendered, otherwise it would be forced labour within the meaning of Article 23 of
the Constitution. There is no difference between a prisoner serving a sentence inside the
prison walls and a freeman in the society.
Whenever during the imprisonment, the prisoners are made to work in the prison; they must
be paid wages at the reasonable rate. The wages should not be below minimum wages.
In the case of State of Gujarat v. Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat 5 , A delicate issue
requiring very circumspective approach mooted before the court. Whether prisoners, who are
required to do labour as part of their punishment, should necessarily be paid wages for such
work at the rates prescribed under Minimum Wages law. The court has before him appeals
filed by some State Governments challenging the judgments rendered by the respective High
Courts which in principle upheld the contention that denial of wages at such rates would
fringe on infringement of the Constitution protection against extraction of forced labour.
All prisoners under sentence should be required to work subject to their physical and mental
fitness as determined medically. Work is not to be conceived as additional punishment but as
a means of furthering the rehabilitation of the prisoners, there training for work, the forming
of better work habits, and of preventing idleness and disorder. Punitive, repressive and
5

State of Gujarat v. Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat AIR 1998 SC 392

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afflictive work in any form should not be given to prisoners. Work should not become
drudgery and a meaningless prison activity. work and training programmes should be treated
as important avenues of imparting useful values to inmates for their vocational and social
adjustment and also for their ultimate rehabilitation in the free community. Rates of Wages
should be fair and equitable and not merely nominal or paltry. These rates should be
standardized so as to achieve a broad uniformity in wage system in all the prisons in cash
State and Union Territory.

CONCLUSION:
The souls behind the bars cannot be denied the same. It is guaranteed to every person by
Article 21 of the Constitution and not even the State has the authority to violate that Right. A
prisoner, be he a convict or under-trial or a detenu, does not cease to be a human being. They
also have all the rights which a free man has but under some restrictions. Just be ing in prison
doesnt deprive them from their fundamental rights. Even when lodged in the jail, he
continues to enjoy all his Fundamental Rights. On being convicted of crime and deprived of
their liberty in accordance with the procedure established by law, prisoners still retain the
residue of constitutional rights.
The importance of affirmed rights of every human being need no emphasis and, therefore, to
deter breaches thereof becomes a sacred duty of the Court, as the custodian and protector of
the

fundamental

and

the

basic

human

rights

of

the

citizens.

Supreme Court has gone a long way fighting for their rights. However the fact remains that it
is the police and the prison authorities who need to be trained and oriented so that they take
prisoners rights seriously.
The souls behind the bars cannot be denied the same. It is guaranteed to every person by
Article 21 of the Constitution and not even the State has the authority to violate that Right. A
prisoner, be he a convict or under-trial or a detenu, does not cease to be a human being. They
also have all the rights which a free man has but under some restrictions. Just being in prison
doesnt deprive them from their fundamental rights. Even when lodged in the jail, he
continues to enjoy all his Fundamental Rights. On being convicted of crime and deprived of
their liberty in accordance with the procedure established by law, prisoners still retain the
residue of constitutional rights.
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The importance of affirmed rights of every human being need no emphasis and, therefore, to
deter breaches thereof becomes a sacred duty of the Court, as the custodian and protector of
the

fundamental

and

the

basic

human

rights

of

the

citizens.

Supreme Court has gone a long way fighting for their rights. However the fact remains t hat it
is the police and the prison authorities who need to be trained and oriented so that they take
prisoners rights seriously.

BIBLIOGRAPGHY AND REFERENCES:


Books:

V.N. Shukla, Constitution of India

Dr. J.N. Pandey Consitutional law of India

Articles:

Saurabh Kothari, Prisioners right in India

Websites:
www.legalserviceindia.com
www.indiankanoon.org
www.vakilno1.com
www.indialawjournal.com

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