New Delhi: Maintaining that prisons are for convicts and not for undertrials, National Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Justice KG Balakrishnan on Thursday said that after filing of chargesheets, the undertrial prisoners should be released on bail to reduce overcrowding in jails.
"After filing of chargesheets in courts, the undertrial prisoners should be released on bail to reduce the burden of overcrowding in jails, which is a serious problem. Overcrowding of prisons may lead to the violation of various basic human rights of inmates. The prisons are for convicts and not for undertrials," he said.
Balakrishnan was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the two-day National Seminar on Prison Reforms organized by the NHRC at India International Centre in New Delhi.
The NHRC chairperson also pointed out that the issue of prison reforms is a serious point of concern for the Commission and so is the case with the improvement required in the criminal justice system.
"Prisons come under States and the respective High Courts can make a major contribution in giving directions to the State Governments on prisoners' complaint about the lack of infrastructure facilities, food, hygiene and healthcare among other things," he said.
He also emphasized that the State Governments needed to spend more to improve the conditions of prisons in the country.
Earlier, in his introductory remarks, NHRC Member, Justice Cyriac Joseph said that passion was required for prison reforms. The Supreme Court had identified nine problem areas which were required to be addressed for reforming prisons and even after 18 years since then, those still remained there.
"These were: overcrowding, delay in trials, torture and ill-treatment, neglect of health and hygiene, food and clothing, management of open air prisons, deficiency in communication system, streamlining of jail visits," he said while mentioning that prisoners were also entitled to basic human rights within the limitations of prisons.
During the two-day conference, different stakeholders
from across the country will review the action taken reports of the State Governments on the NHRC recommendations towards prison reforms.
They will also study and discuss the issues of amendments in Prisons Act, 1894 and Prison Manuals, manpower shortage in prison administration and working conditions of prison and prison officers, modernisation of prisons, problems of undertrial prisoners, health, hygiene, welfare measures for prisoners and their families, infrastructure issues, among others.
The participants include, NHRC Members and senior officers, senior representatives from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, State Home Secretaries, Director General/Inspector General (Prisons) of States/UTs, State Human Rights Commissions, Bureau of Police Research and Development, members of civil society working in the prison related field and other stakeholders.
The Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh will address the Seminar, as the Chief Guest, in the Concluding Session, tomorrow evening.