In the entire world, all human beings are equal and enjoy equal rights irrespective of their caste, Creed, color, religion, sex, etc. Our rights are safeguarded by different forms such as laws, statutes, International laws (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). It is the burden of the Government of every country to make laws in a way that does not violate the basic right of even a single citizen.

A prison is a place where people are detained for their wrongful act, when they break any law, committed a crime, etc. Prison is also called a Jail, detention center, lock-up, penitentiary, etc. Prison is an edifice where the rights of persons are denied and confined in a bar for a period according to the wrong done by them. The liberty of inmates is forcefully constrained.

The Social-legal system of India is based on non-violence, mutual respect, and human dignity. If a person committed any wrong even then they should be treated with full of dignity after all they are also human beings.


It’s normal in our country to practice torture, cruelty against prisoners from the very beginning onwards. While investing crimes, torture is also assessed to all those who file petitions, suer, one who gives information in good faith along with Prisoners that amounts to cruelty, barbaric, inhuman, derogatory to the prestige of human beings, also cruelty is done against women by committing rape, molestation, and sexual harassment.[1]

In India the situations of prisons are awful. Approximately 99% of death that occurs within two days of their arrest are due to mentally torture such as prisoners are compelled to drink urine, sighted them on the slabs of ice, and hung by wires, body parts are broken and many others reasons as well. We can simply say that torture in Indian prisons is prevalent and radical.[2]

Every day there are clashes between the prisoners, staff, authorities, guards. Violence on sexual assault. Violence can cause serious health risks there are many reasons for violence in lock- up dirty environments, shortage of living areas due to which many prisoners start fighting for their place, scarcity of occupation of mind which results in frustration and mental trouble. Due to overcrowding many diseases especially contagious diseases which are transmitted from one prisoner to another prisoner are spread, Lack of medical facilities for prisoners. They should be kept on a check-up regularly as being human they also have the right to health.


All human beings have equal rights including prisoners their basic rights should not be violated. All have basic rights example right to life, the right to health, right to food, these rights should be given to all prisoners despite the violation of law, crimes committed by them. These rights are given to prisoners under article 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1950[3] which states that no one can be denied his personal liberty, all are equal before the law, right to health[4].

The basic rights of prisoners have been stated in Sunil Batra versus Delhi administration[5] in this case Supreme Court held that prisoners are also person, the hands-off doctrine is rejected (as to hoop severely and to punish annoyingly), Under Article 19[6] minimum freedom of movement of a detainee cannot be denied by using handcuffs there can be many other paths of assuring the safety,  under article 14[7] Right to equality to all prisoners, under article 14 and 21 prisoners can meet their relatives, friends, and lawyers if they want, free legal aid is also available to prisoners.[8]

Basic facilities that must be given to all prisoners are proper food, clean drinking water, proper sanitation facilities, medical treatment, they can connect advocates to defend themselves, protection from torture and violence.


As the whole world is suffering from a pandemic due to Covid-19 people were dying like cats and dogs due to coronavirus. Already there is a lack of medical facilities in our country and due to this pandemic, the shortage of medical facilities increased twice. Due to this pandemic Prisoners from social and economic backward societies were more affected.

Some international organizations released a joint statement on coronavirus in lock-up such as WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS, OHCHR they all said to draw urgent attention from all political leaders. UNHRC said that due to failure of taking any step to the people who all are suffering from coronavirus in prison is the violation of Article 6 (right to life) and Article 9 (right to Liberty) of ICCPR, 1996.[9]

India is a member of ICCPR has to take sufficient gauges to curb the spread of coronavirus in jail, If India gets fails in its measures then this led to the violation of commitment mentioned in ICCPR.

Section 3(1) of the Prisoners Act, 1893[10] explains that jail is a place used by the government to detain prisoners either temporarily or permanently. Medical and its staff is defined in section 3 of the Act. Medical officers have the responsibility of prisoners to take care of sanitation and hygiene,   this is pointed out by the jail Reforms Committee 1980-83 even then in India condition of prisoners is still the worst, unhygienic, and lack of medical facilities.

Parappana Agrahara jail is the biggest Jail of Karnataka in this jail for 4,400 Prisoners only 2 medical officers are there and for 126 women Prisoners no female medical officer is there.

There is only one toilet for more than 120 Prisoners said Dr kafeel Khan through his letter when he was in Mathura jail last year, further he also said that prison is just like a “living hell”.

In 2019, prisoner’s statistics done to the National crime records bureau, the number of prisoners in India was 1,350. The maximum number of prisoners that can be accommodated is 4,03,739, but there were 4,78,600 prisoners at the time of records, this shows that prisoners are overcrowded like cattle, out of which 2/3rd prisoners are under trial.[11]

The court said that the fundamental rights of prisoners cannot be taken away even in imprisonment in the case of Charles Sobraj vs. The Supt.

In another case of Parmanand Katara vs. Union of India and others, Supreme Court clearly said that regarding the preservation of human life there can never be a second opinion irrespective of the patient is virtuous or a criminal.

A bench headed by Ex-Chief Justice of India S.A bobde due to spread of coronavirus that due to overcrowding of prisoners there are more chances of spreading of coronavirus, Suo Moto cognizance was taken by Supreme Court, further Court instructed all the state and union territories’ government to take sufficient gauges to prevent the spread of coronavirus also said to form a committee to divide the Prisoners according to their class so that we can be released temporarily (Parole). When the cases started dropping down Court order them to confine prisoners again.[12]

Cases were increased again in 2021, due to the second wave of coronavirus, a letter sent to the Chief Justice of India by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights said that the condition of prisoners is becoming the worst day by day due to the continuous increase of cases.

Further Senior Counsel Mr. Colin Gonsalves requested the court to grant three months Parole to all those who had been given the last year 2020.

Till the 11th of May, prisoners above the age of 45 can only be vaccinated in Delhi, 87% of prisoners who were below 45 years of age were not getting vaccination because the Delhi government had not started vaccines for below age 45.

Till the 15th of April seventy prisoners, eleven prison staff reports were positive, and the cases increased to 535 till May 7. In Tihar, Mandoli, and Rohini jail there were 19,500 Prisoners out of which only 2500 (above 45 years) were eligible for the vaccine, others Prisoners 17,000 which were left forms 87% of total prisoners population were not eligible to get the vaccine this data is given by prison authorities.

Director-General of prison, Sandeep Goel has written a letter to the Delhi government, requested to provide vaccines to all those who were above 18 years of age.

Apex court orders police not to detain the person until and unless it is necessary, the cases in which punishment is not less than 7 years due to continuous increase in the number of cases.

Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini jail authorities have started giving medical facilities to infected prisoners at their Hospital instead of admitting them to other hospitals which are situated outside they said that in this way they can take care of prisoners properly.[13]


It can be concluded that Prisoners are also human beings they should get their basic rights proper sanitation, ventilation in their living area, good food, clean drinking water, proper medical facilities. According to the report of India justice, 2019 prisoners suffer from the infectious disease despite many laws, regulations, regular health check-ups. During the pandemic, the health of prisoners has been neglected. In the hospital of prison, money is not spent on their medical facilities, for more than 250 Prisoners there is only one medical staff despite 30% of vacancy. Prisoners also have the right to protect themselves from various types of violence, torture, sexual- assault especially women. They should be given minimum freedom to meet their friends, families, and lawyers to defend themselves. Besides all these things free Legal Aid should also be given to Prisoners.

Author’s Name: Umra Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)

Image Reference




[3] Article 21 of Indian Constitution, 1950


[5] Sunil Batra vs. Delhi administration

[6] Article 19 of Indian Constitution, 1950

[7] Article 14 of Indian constitution, 1950

[8], suffer%20shrinkage%20necessitated%20by%20incarceration  

[9] International covenant on civil and Political rights, 1996

[10] Prisoners Act, 1893




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