India: NHRC recommends overhaul of Prison Act
The National Human Rights Commission has recommended that the 1894 Prison Act be revised to ensure the basic human rights of prisoners.
Describing the 1894 Prison Act as "very old", the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that it be revised to ensure the basic human rights of prisoners.
NHRC Chairperson, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, also called for uniformity in prison manuals so that prisoners in different states across India have access to the same privileges.
Speaking at the end of a two-day national seminar on prison reforms organised by the NHRC, Justice Balakrishnan said the 'action taken' reports from different states presented a good picture of reforms taking place in prisons.
However, the states needed to spend more on prison reforms, he said.
Highlighting some of the key recommendations of the seminar, NHRC Member Justice Cyriac Joseph said there was near unanimity that governments should provide sufficient funds to prisons.
One important recommendation was that the 1894 Prison Act should be revised and the NHRC should prepare a draft Bill, said Joseph.
Justice Balakrishnan said that a large number of courts were required to be set up to clear the backlog of cases so that undertrial prisoners do not stay in jails beyond one year, in order to reduce the problems created by overcrowding.
Other important recommendations from the conference include amending prison manuals to include a human rights perspective and constructing separate prisons for women, which would be managed by female officers and staff.
More information on the conference recommendations is available on the NHRC website.
Date: 14 November 2014