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Under-trial prisoners are the most underrated topic in our country, everybody is talking about political depression, economic recession and social dichotomy, but nobody shows concern about undertrial prisoners. So, different countries have different perceptive regarding the prisoner’s law, and India has its own provisions. For the discussion of the topic, it is important to compare laws and better improvement for the condition of them to get justice on time.

KEYWORDS: condition of prisoners, enforcement bodies


First of all, prisoners mean those people who are involved in crime and restraint to enjoy liberty. They are deprived to practice freedom or liberty. They are taken to prison if they are convicted of the crime. But under the Indian constitution, they have basic rights to claim under the prison such as the right to food, the right to drink water, the right to appoint an attorney to represent himself, and protection from torture, violence, and racial harassment.


The life of prisoners is bad, harsh, awful and unhealthy in India. There are several factors which are responsible to affect the life of the prisoner in a bad manner. Some of the basic features are as follows:

  1. Overcrowding: There are various undertrial cases which leads to create crowd. This reason slows down the working of a system. Congestion in jails and lack of judicial members mainly are concerned with overcrowding.

  2. Corruption: Corruption in jails and guards taking bribes - these are the common issues which make the prison system unfair.

  3. Insufficient legal aid: According to a survey, per 1000 clients, there is only one lawyer available. And due to a lack of legal approach cases are pending across the country. Prisons do not have an adequate amount of money to fight for themselves also leads to creating problems.

  4. Abuse of prisoners: During undertrial, prisoners have to face abuse which is both physical and mental. Conflict arises between inmates and jail authorities. Officers have a lack of training and insufficient knowledge affect the life of prisoners. Women facing sexual harassment who are imprisoned behind the bars.

  5. Custodial torture: in the case of Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration, Supreme Court prevent custodial torture. During the investigation when the person is detained under the bar, the concerned authorities used to torture them to accept the crime or to say the truth. Sometimes, this physical and mental torture results in the death of a person who may be innocent. Even if he is a criminal, the law does not allow any authorities to practice this type of activity. These are the leading factor which restricts the prison to live a life full of dignity.

ENFORCEMENT BODIES UNDER INDIAN LAWIn India, prison administration comes under the jurisdiction of the state government. Each state has their own prison system, they are responsible to take calls regarding the system. They are required to regulate the laws.

  • The primary legislation governing prisons in India is the Prison Act, 1894: this act provides a framework of administration and management in prison. They enact rights, privileged, rules, healthcare and hygiene for the prisoners.

  • National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission have the right to mandate prison conditions.

  • Judicial oversight: courts have the power to overview the cases if any kind of infringement of right is happened.


All the prisoners shall have the right to life with dignity and value their life as human beings. There are provisions provided under the law:

  1. Article 21: Indian Constitution provides the protection of life, the right to get treatment, the right to a fair trial, the right to legal representation, right to communicate with the outside world, among others.

  2. Under CrPC: Section 50 conferred the right to be informed on the grounds of their arrest. Section 56: right to be produced before a magistrate; Section 161: right against self-incrimination; Section 436 to 439: right to bail; Section 41A right to a fair investigation. Right to a fair trial. Right against double jeopardy under section 300. These rights depend on the nature of the crime.


Justice Amitava Roy Committee

The committee recommend various right which plays a prominent role for the prisoners to live with dignity such as:

  • Free phone calls must be provided for the prisoners.

  • He also suggested that there must be facilities for cooking and canteens to buy essential items and the trials should be conducted through Video Conferencing mode.

  • Reform committee recommendation for the prisoner.


There are certain method law making bodies have to take into consideration. We all know that Indian prison system has very dynamic structure but still needs some changes according to time. Some of the basic rights that Indian Prisoners must have, are as follows:

  1. For the protection of prisoners, there should be specific provisions.

  2. Appoint a special officer who can check and ensure the prisoner's health on a timely basis.

  3. There must be rehabilitation programs which can help prisoners to reform them.

  4. Jail must consist of modern technology which can help the officer to take care of prisoners.

  5. Government should launch a health scheme and improve hygiene for better living.

  6. During the jail period, there must be a training camp and skill development course by which prisoners can earn some money and after release, they can use skills and training for the purpose of living a dignified life and they can pay fees of their lawyers.


South Africa is a developing country, they are also struggling to improve the life of prisoners, due to some reasons are as follow:

  1. Overcrowding: due to limited resources prison condition is worst.

  2. Violence and gang activities: violence is a significant issue within prisoners. When inmates came, other prisoners made gang groups and try to be cruel with them.

  3. Health and sanitation: health care facilities are inadequate due to which health care of prisoners is not the concerned issue. Lack of medicine supply, insufficient sanitation facilities.

  4. Juvenile detention: they faced challenges regarding juvenile prisoners because of overcrowding they were not able to provide adequate sully of staff to look after them, lack of education facilities and insufficient regulatory method.


In South Africa, various bodies are responsible for enforcing laws regarding the prison system. They are responsible for the regulation, suggestions and making laws regarding them. The following services are as below:

  1. DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES AND CORRECTION SERVICES ACT: These services are responsible for the administration, regulation and supervise over the prisoners. They ensure the function of prison system. They take care of the program of rehabilitation and provide basic facilities.

  2. JUDICIAL INSPECTORATE FOR CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: JICS is an independent body established by the Correctional Services Act. Its main aims to ensure that the rights and dignity of inmates are respected and protected, and the correctional system operates in accordance with laws.

  3. PROMOTION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT: this is a piece of legislation in which prisoners have right to access information regarding any public document.

  4. CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA: the constitution states the right to life with dignity, gives guidelines about punishment, provides medical treatment and ensures the advantage are enjoyed by prisoners.


There are various laws and rights for prisoners for living a welfare life. These are rights provide by the government of South Africa are as follows:

  • Right to life with dignity, equality, access to legal representation, healthcare facilities, freedom to practice any religion, right to communication with outside worlds, right to lodge complaint and grievances.

  • Prisoners might enjoy their rights but due to reasonable restriction they have limited use of these rights.

Major incident happened due to which it causes changes in provision of laws: Leeuwkop prison torture scandal: This is considered as one of significant incident that changes to prison system. The fact of the case is that officer were used to torture and abuse with inmates in brutal way. This lead to create havoc and leads to changes in law system. Various method and amendment has been taken place are as follow:

  1. STRENGTHENED VIGILANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY: monitoring the prison system by submitting the report on due time, an officer appointed for taking care of prisoners. And judicial intervention has also been introduced to oversight the bar.

  2. IMPROVED TRAINING AND PROFESSIONALISM: the scandal exposed issues with the training, professionalism, and ethics of prison officials. Efforts were taken to improve this system, to make it happen in a real manner.

  3. FOCUS ON REHABILITATION AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: the incident reflected the importance of rehabilitation and restoration that needs to address the root causes of criminal behaviour.



As we compare various countries' prisoner rights, some of the basic reforms India should have to introduced, like education programme, vocational training which countries like Brazil, and Rwanda have. REHABILITATION method rather than to pronouncing death sentences. countries like Norway, Denmark and many more country banned the practice of death sentence. India should have to think about this right. And hence, there are several reform has to be needed in Indian prison system.


  1. Jayaram Swathy, rights of prisoners,

  2. J.N Pandey, the constitution of india

  3. J.N Pandey, constitutional laws

  4. Mahelaka Abrar, rights of prisoners and major judgements on it, ipleaders

  5. CSPRI, a resource book of South Africa

  6. thesis, http//

  7. prison reform in South Africa,


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