7 Feb 2023 7:12 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought stand of the Central Government on a public interest litigation challenging the provisions relating to separate or solitary confinement of prison inmates. A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued notice on a plea moved by Advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal which challenges the constitutional validity...
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought stand of the Central Government on a public interest litigation challenging the provisions relating to separate or solitary confinement of prison inmates.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued notice on a plea moved by Advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal which challenges the constitutional validity of various provisions under Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Prisons Act, 1894.
“Issue notice. The Union of India is granted six weeks time to seek instructions in the matter. List on May 23,” the court said.
The plea impugns sections 73 and 74 of Indian Penal Code and sections 29, 30(2), 46, 48 and 49 of Prisons Act as being ultra vires of the rights enshrined under Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 20(2) and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The plea submits that the term“solitary confinement” is neither defined in the impugned provisions nor its conditions are specified, however, its features are designed to “gratuitously increase prisoner physical and mental ordeals.”
It adds that the conditions imposed by such confinement are “dehumanizing, degrading and destroy reformation and rehabilitation of the inmate” and also inflicts undue additional punishment.
“That solitary confinement is a venomous lethal sting of a veritable scorpion; it is sadistic, barbaric and an inhuman practice that consigns prisoners into dingy malodorous dungeons by abusive, coercive and obstreperous prison officials for even minor prison infractions as feigning sickness, squabbling over food or access to toilets, being indolent or even talking-back with prison officers!,” the plea states.
It has been submitted that solitary confinement, which cuts off an inmate from sensory, visual and social society, is inhuman and works as an “additional punishment and exacerbation of rigorous imprisonment”, thereby being an arbitrary judicial and police power with no nexus with the sentence.
“Such unbridled, arbitrary and dictatorial powers of the superintendents enable them to exert oppressive and suffocating powers over hapless convicts already convulsing from deprivation of freedom. Hence, separate or solitary confinement under these sections is barbarous, cruel, causes extreme pain and suffering and breaches the fundamental rights under 14, 19, Art 20(2) and 21,” the plea submits.
Case Title: Harsh Vibhore Singhal v. Union of India