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CSR-Funded Private Jails : Supreme Court Gives Suggestions To Centre On Prison Reforms

Rintu Mariam Biju
29 Sep 2022 12:43 PM GMT
CSR-Funded Private Jails : Supreme Court Gives Suggestions To Centre On Prison Reforms
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Noting the questionable conditions of jails in the country, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday gave an innovative suggestion, with a view to make the lives of prisoners better. A Bench headed by Justice KM Joseph suggested the idea of private jails and recommended to have large corporates, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, to build jails."There's a study of prisons....

Noting the questionable conditions of jails in the country, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday gave an innovative suggestion, with a view to make the lives of prisoners better.

A Bench headed by Justice KM Joseph suggested the idea of private jails and recommended to have large corporates, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, to build jails.

"There's a study of prisons. It's one of the lowest priority for any govt. They have hospitals and schools to build. In Europe there's a concept of private responsibility. : Next is CSR, you can have jails built by corporates, an alarming rate of undertrials. They will build it and give it", Justice Joseph told Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta.

"This will ensure that the State exchequer is not burnt!", the Justice Joseph added. while adding that the corporates could even avail lower income tax benefits.

Then a new concept will evolve, from anticipatory bail to anticipatory jail, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, who was also part of the Bench, said in a lighter vein.

The discussion pertaining to overcrowding of jails and lack of facilities came alive while the Bench was considering a petition moved by Gautam Navlakha seeking to be shifted to house arrest from Taloja Jail owing to health reasons. The Court today ordered that he be shifted the KEM Hospital, Mumbai for Colonoscopy and skin allergy related health concerns. A detailed report on today's hearing can be seen here.

The Bench further observed it initiated the discussion only because Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal pointed to the issue of overcrowding in prisons.

As per prison rules, undertrials should not be put together with convicts, the Court noted.

"We can't make their lives inhumane", Justice Joseph remarked while adding that animals are treated better.

The Bench also highlighted that when the system (in prisons and jails) is so bad, there's always a tendency to seek revenge.

"There's forced homosexuality. If you are visitor, you can see. All kinds of things happen there. That adds to a tendency to take revenge against the system. Especially because it let you down when you needed it the most."

The Bench further pointed out that in countries such as Sweden and Norway, the jails are so beautiful and they provide great facilities for their prisoners. Though that may not be possible in India.

"It's like a resort. They have an attached bathroom, TV and everything", Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.

"Their concept is that nobody is beyond redemption", Justice Joseph said.

Justice Roy further pointed out that visiting jails is a great learning experience to understand ground realities.

As the matter drew to a close, Justice Joseph requested the SG to look into the issue whenever he gets the time.

The matter will be next heard on October 21.

Case Title: Gautam Navlakha Versus National Investigation Agency And Anr | Diary No. 23064-20

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