The Supreme Court has directed the States to consider implementing the reformative and rehabilitation programmes contained in the Model Prison Manual of 2016.
The manual which has been approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs refers to the education of prisoners which is vital for the overall development of prisoners. It also suggests physical education such as Yoga, health/hygiene education, moral and spiritual education among others.
"We do not have any material on record about how many States have adopted the 2016 Manual. We direct the States to consider implementing the reformative and rehabilitation programmes contained in the 2016 Manual. In addition, it is open to the States to adopt any other correctional measures." said the bench comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice R. Subhash Reddy.
While commuting death sentence in a minor's rape and murder case and converting it to 30 years imprisonment without remission, the bench noted the following suggestion made in the judgment in Rajendra Prasad v. State of U.P. by Justice VR Krishna Iyer.
"Social defence against murderers is best insured in the short run by caging them but in the long run, the real run, by transformation through re-orientation of the inner man by many methods including neuro-techniques of which we have a rich legacy. If the prison system will talk the native language, we have the yogic treasure to experiment with on high-strung, high-risk murder merchants. Neuroscience stands on the threshold of astounding discoveries. Yoga, in its many forms, seems to hold splendid answers. Meditational technology as a tool of criminology is a nascent-ancient methodology. The State must experiment. It is cheaper to hang than to heal, but Indian life — any human life — is too dear to be swung dead save in extreme circumstances."
The court then asked the state of Maharashtra about the steps it has taken for reformation and rehabilitation of the prisoners. The state told the bench that it has already issued circulars to start Yoga and meditation classes for improvement of physical and mental health of the inmates in the penitentiaries. It said that programmes like "Prerna Path" for which persons like Shri Ram Dev Baba and others were invited to Yerwada Central Prison, Pune for motivating the prisoners to participate in the programmes of Yoga.