New Delhi: Terming the 1894 Prison Act as "very old", National Human Rights Commission on Friday recommended today that it be replaced to ensure basic human rights for prisoners.
NHRC Chairperson, Justice KG Balakrishnan, also pitched for uniformity in prison manuals so that prisoners get the same privileges.
"The Union Ministry of Home Affairs can also suggest some model rules for amendment in the 1894 Prison Act", he said.
He said action taken reports of different states presented some good picture of reforms in prisons but a lot was required to be done. States need to spend more on prison reforms, Justice Balakrishnan said at the end of a two-day national seminar on prison reforms.
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, being very old, is needed to be replaced with a new one and NHRC should prepare a draft Bill, said Joseph.
Justice Balakrishnan said a large number of courts were required to be set up to clear the backlog of cases so that the undertrial prisoners do not stay in jails beyond one year to avoid overcrowding which may lead to violation of basic human rights of inmates.
He also mentioned that prison should be perceived as a "home for corrective and reformative custody and care" and that prisoners were also entitled to basic human rights within the limitations of imprisonment.
Another important recommendation of the conference is that prison manuals also require amendments with a human rights perspective.