Justice Amitava Roy To Head ‘Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms’; SC Issues Directions [Read Judgment]
The Supreme Court constituted a three member committee headed by former SC Judge Justice Amitava Roy to look into issues of reforms in prison administration and prison management.
The Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms will also comprise of Inspector General of Police, Bureau of Police Research and Director General (Prisons) Tihar Jail as its members.
With this, the bench comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta disposed a suo motu writ petition (Re- Inhuman Conditions In 1382 Prisons) it had registered on the basis of a letter received from former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti. In his letter, the former CJI had raised four issues viz. overcrowding in prisons; unnatural deaths of prisoners; gross inadequacy of staff; and the available staff being untrained or inadequately trained.
Advocate Gaurav Agarwal has been assisting the Court as Amicus Curiae. The bench had issued various directions in this writ petition earlier also.
Terms of Reference
Following are the terms of reference of the committee. With regard to first three terms, the bench has requested to give its recommendations preferably within three months from the date on which the necessary facilities are provided by the Government of India
- Review the implementation of the Guidelines contained in the Model Prison Manual 2016 by States and Union Territories (UT's).
- Review the implementation by the States and UTs of the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women in its report tabled in the Parliament titled ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice,’ and the advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in this regard.
- To review the two training manuals for prison personnel prepared by Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D), ‘Training Manual of Basic Course for Prison Officers 2017’ and ‘Training Manual of Basic Course for Prison Warders 2017’ and forwarded to States and UTs.
- Review the recommendations made in the report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with the National Commission for Women and the National Law University Delhi on ‘Women in Prisons’.
- Review the recommendations made in the report of the National Commission for Women on ‘Inspection of Prisons/Jails/ Custodial Homes housing Women’.
- Review the implementation by States and UTs of the Guidelines contained in ‘Living conditions in Institutions for Children in Conflict with Law’ prepared by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the Model Rules and Procedures prepared by the MWCD under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016.
- Review the status of the implementation of the guidelines and advisories issued by MHA to the States and UTs.
- The Committee may give its consolidated recommendations based on the above and suggest measures to improve the implementation of the aforementioned guidelines and advisories, subject to budgetary resources available with the States and the UTs.
- To examine the extent of overcrowding in prisons and correctional homes and recommend remedial measures, including an examination of the functioning of Under Trial Review Committees, availability of legal aid and advice, grant of remission, parole and furlough.
- To examine violence in prisons and correctional homes and recommend measures to prevent unnatural deaths and assess the availability of medical facilities in prisons and correctional homes and make recommendations in this regard.
- To assess the availability and inadequacy of staff in prisons and correctional homes and recommend remedial measures.
- To suggest training and educational modules for the staff in prisons and correctional homes with a view to implement the suggestions.
- To assess the feasibility of establishing Open Prisons, the possibility of and the potential for establishing Open Prisons in different parts of the country and give effect to the recommendations.
- To recommend steps for the psycho-social well-being of minor children of women prisoners, including their education and health.
- To examine and recommend measures for the health, education, development of skills, rehabilitation and social reintegration of children in Observation Homes, Places of Safety and Special Homes established under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
- Generally, any other recommendation that the Committee may deem appropriate, fit and proper in furtherance of reforms in prisons and correctional homes.
- The Committee while giving its suggestions and recommendations may also suggest changes or amendments to various guidelines contained in the Modern Prison Manual, 2016 and also various directives issued by the Government of India.
The bench has also directed that the Chairman of the Committee would be entitled to financial benefits as available to a Judge of the Supreme Court.
The bench has also issued further directions to the committee.
- The Committee will make its recommendations as soon as feasible, other than with respect to the first three Terms of Reference, dealt with above. It may consider, if necessary, sending reports on any of the matters as and when the recommendations are finalized. It shall also make its recommendations to the State Governments.
- The Committee will devise its own procedure and formulate modalities necessary for accomplishing the task. It may appoint such advisers, institutional consultants and experts as it may consider necessary for any particular purpose. It may call for such information and take such evidence as it may consider necessary. All State Governments, UT Administrations and the Ministries/Departments of the Central Government will furnish such information, documents and other assistance as required by the Committee.
- We request the Committee to complete the collection of data and information and make appropriate recommendations and submit the same to this Court preferably within a period of 12 months.
- The Committee may visit the States and interact with authorities concerned of the State Governments. All authorities of the State Governments and Union Territories may be directed to extend full cooperation with Committee. It would be the responsibility of the State Governments to cooperate with the Committee and facilitate its visit and outreach to relevant authorities.
- The Committee shall be at liberty to approach this Court to seek any further clarification or direction, if felt necessary.
- The Government of India will make the services of an Additional Solicitor General of India, as and when required by the Committee for any assistance.
- As and when a copy of the final report is submitted, the matter to be listed for further orders