• Legis Scriptor

The Rights of Prisoners in India

Authored By Hitika Arora

Keywords: Confined, Violation, Liberty, Fundamental rights, imprisonment, Judicial Process


A prisoner who is under trial faces trial in the competent court and until then they are kept in prison. The aim for the concept of Imprisonment or confining a person in prison is not to punish but keeping the offender of a crime detained until the actual punishment could be carried out. The Supreme Court has worked on the issues to give prisoners re- human condition. But, there are various serious problems in the process of the administration, justice and hence it is a serious issue. So, here we are going to talk about the rights given to prisoner by the Constitution of India.


The right to life in broader perspective means quality of life, it should not be confined to a right only. The prisoners who are imprisoned are a result of their crime, against the laws of the country, but their Basic Human Rights which is granted by the respective agreements and the constitution laws must not be violated at any cost. The term ‛prisoner' refers to any individual who has breached the law of the land and is thus in police custody preventing their Liberty for the welfare of the society. The prisoner in the jail suffers inhuman and depreciative conditions. In modern democracy there’s a lack of Civil Rights but they must be allowed with reformative approaches, any individual who can’t reform themselves into a better person until a reformative approach is not adopted.

Prisons in India are overcrowded, congested and there is a lack of safety. The prisoners are secluded from the world and is exposed to danger even in prison and it’s a fact. According, to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), prisoners must be treated with dignity and their right to life which is the basic requirement and safety must not be violated. They must also be secured from inhuman torture there of human rights are necessary for a person to live and thus despite of that any offences committed thereof, prisoners must not be let to suffer.

Rights under The Constitution of India

Certain rights that have been brought up in Part III of the Indian Constitution with states that a person inside a prison still remains a ‘person’. The right to Personal Liberty has been given a very wide explanation by the Apex Court. The fundamental right is not only for free men but also even to those who are conflicted with the law. The right to speedy trial, free legal aid service, the right to against hurt, the right to against inhuman and humiliating treatment provided to a person into the person also.

Article 14 [6] : principle of equality is expressed. The notion of ‘equal should be treated equally’. The concept of reasonable classification is mentioned in Article 14 that has been a very efficient substance for the courts to examine the category of prisoners.

Article 19 [7] of the constitution gives 6 freedom to the citizen of our country,“ freedom of movement”, “freedom to reside and to settle” and “freedom of profession, occupation trade or business“ can’t be enjoyed by the prisoners because it have some conflict with the concept of prisons and the concerned authorities have the power to put reasonable restrictions.

But other fundamental rights like ‘freedom of speech and expression’, ‘freedom to become a member of an Association’, etc. can be retrieved by the prisoners and convicted for a crime. But these will be considered as the limitations of the prison laws.

Article 20(1)[8] provides protection to the person from the laws which are already applied and are illegal now. Article 20 provides to protect a prisoner from being convicted to any. In article 20(2)[9] represents the principle of ‘Double Jeopardy' this clause refers to the rule of common law ‘Nemo Debet vis Vexari', there is no person should be put behind bars twice in the prisoner for the same offense.

Article 21 of the Indian constitution gives the right to life to a person. It includes the Principle of Liberty. After Maneka Gandhi* case, the Supreme Court gave a wide interpretation and gives a right that has been used against any action taken arbitrarily by the Executive authorities including the police and prison authority. After that particular judgment, the concept of Fair and reasonable procedure for the devastation of the life has been set. The court has also held that Article 21 of the Indian constitution includes the notion of speedy trial which is present under the Right to life.

Article 22(4) to (7) provides special safeguards for the detained person under preventive detention law.

Article 39 A of the Constitution of India empowers the detained person to secure free Legal Aid. Just because a person has been penalized to imprisonment doesn’t mean that the rights can be violated.

Article 72 and 161 of the Indian constitution provides special grants to the President and the Governors of the state, to grant mercy to the prisoners from the Judicial process.


In the era of awareness of right in society where the rights are given much more preferences. Prisoners are not being seen as human beings and the Supreme Court has reiterated the placement in many cases and have recognized rights of the prisoners. So, they don’t have to suffer and have a better surroundings to improve themselves and become better human being during the course of jail term. The government have the responsibility to provide infrastructure, manpower and human conditions for the rehab rightful survivor of prisoners, but also to provide right to information to prisoners to avoid possible and excessive abuse of prisoners. I would conclude by saying that right of information, vast publicity of prisoners and presence of surveillance in prisons can be the key for upholding prisoner’s right in India.