A division bench of Delhi High Court on Monday asked the authorities to explore appropriate programmes and intervention for mainstreaming and rehabilitating women prisoners.
The bench comprising Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra observed that the status of women prisoners is extremely sad and unfortunate.
“In several cases involving women prisoners, we are coming across the fact that, apart from the punishment awarded by law, they are suffering a fate worse than just their incarceration. One in which their pain would be endless and knows no reprieve, one for which there can be no legal intervention or legal remedy. This is the punishment inflicted not only on the woman prisoner but may even extend to her spouse and children by their relatives, friends and society,” it said.
The bench made the observations while allowing an appeal filed by Poonam Rani against the conviction and sentence under Section 302 IPC for the murder of her mother-in-law. It acquitted her, holding that the prosecution has failed to prove circumstances, which cumulatively form a chain so complete that there was no escape from the conclusion that, within all human probability, the crime was committed by the appellant.
The bench noted that as a result of the imprisonment of appellant, the first thing that resulted was her complete abandonment by in-laws and husband.
“We however, find that in cases where the man of the family has been accused, or even stands convicted, of extremely gruesome and heinous offences, the entire family rallies around him. Be it the wife and children or parents and siblings, they all not only defend the case vigorously but also do their utmost to secure bail for the alleged offender or suspension of sentence for the male convict. There is no dearth of persons visiting such male prisoners in jail for mulaqat as well. This is an unfortunate but hard reality faced by women prisoner,” it said.
Justice Mittal, who wrote the judgment, observed that since society hardly gives a second chance to women prisoners, the responsibility to be shouldered by the authorities qua these prisoners is enhanced manifold to ensure that they are adequately equipped with the strength to face their emotional and physical isolation with fortitude, their self-confidence and self-esteem built up coupled with impartation of such livelihood skills as would enable them to create financially independent lives for themselves.
Suggestions given by the court:
The bench directed the Registry to send a copy of the judgment to the Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India; Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India; Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi; Commissioner of Police, New Delhi; Director General (Prisons), Central Jail, Tihar; and Member Secretary, Delhi Legal Services Authority, to examine the observations and explore appropriate programmes and intervention so that mainstreaming and rehabilitation of women prisoners is not compromised in any manner.
Read the Judgment here.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.