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SC bats for prisoners’ right to dignity, issues stern directives on prison reforms

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SC bats for prisoners’ right to dignity, issues stern directives on prison reforms

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Custodial deaths indicate the apparent disdain of the State to the life and liberty of individuals, says the Supreme Court in landmark 43-page verdict

In a landmark verdict aimed at restoring a prisoner’s right to lead a life with dignity even while being lodged in a jail and to provide for the kin of prisoners who die of “unnatural’ causes while in jail, the Supreme Court on Friday issued a slew of directives to the Centre, States and High Courts across the country.

Noting that “there seems to be no let up in custodial deaths” across the country, the apex court Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said: “This is not a sad but a tragic state of affairs indicating the apparent disdain of the State to the life and liberty of individuals, particularly those in custody. The time to remedy the situation is long past and yet, there seems to be no will and therefore no solution in sight”.

Interestingly, the judgment came not on a public interest litigation but over a letter addressed to the apex court in 2013 by its then Chief Justice RC Lahoti on the deplorable conditions of 1382 prisons across the country, which had been admitted in the form of a PIL.

Justice Lokur who authored the judgment delivered on Friday said in his 43-page verdict: “right sounding noises critical of custodial violence (in any form) cannot achieve any useful purpose unless persons in authority hear the voices of the victims or the silence of the dead and act on them by taking remedial steps.”

The verdict asks Chief Justices of all High Courts across the country to “register a suo motu public interest petition with a view to identifying the next of kin of the prisoners who have admittedly died an unnatural death as revealed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) during the period between 2012 and 2015 and even thereafter, and award suitable compensation, unless adequate compensation has already been awarded”.

The Court’s order to compute compensation from 2012 onwards has been given on the rationale that the NCRB didn’t maintain any data for unnatural deaths in prisons in the years preceding 2012.

The Court’s directive is a welcome and radical departure from the currently established practice of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) or its subsidiaries in the States deciding on and awarding compensation in cases of custodial torture, deaths, etc. The Bench possibly bore in mind that most state governments do not adhere to directives issued by the human rights panels as these commissions do not exercise any power of contempt – a right that is reserved for courts. This judgment thus sets a new precedent wherein the high court will now directly award compensation and ensure compliance by the States.

According to data with the NCRB, 551 “unnatural deaths”, including 328 suicides, had happened in prisons across the country between 2012 and 2015. A monograph by the NHRC published in December 2014 had pointed out that between 2007 and 2011, suicides accounted for 71 per cent of the total number of unnatural deaths in prison. Further, the monograph established that while the average suicide rate among the general public for this period was 11 per 1,00,000; the average suicide rate in prisons was 16.9 per 1,00,000.

The court directed the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to ensure circulation within one month and “in any event by 31st October, 2017” of the Model Prison Manual, the monograph prepared by the NHRC, the compendium of advisories issued by the MHA to state governments, the Nelson Mandela Rules (a charter passed by the UN General Assembly which says “merely because a person is in prison, it does not mean that he or she should be cut off from the outside world) and the guidelines on investigating deaths in custody issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross to the Director General or Inspector General of Police in charge of prisons in every State and Union Territory.

The judgment also asks all state government to “conduct training and sensitization programmes for senior police officials of all prisons on their functions, duties and responsibilities as also the rights and duties of prisoners.” The Bench has also said that State must appoint “counselors and support persons for counselling prisoners, particularly first-time offenders”.

Another directive issued by the Supreme Court which only emphasizes its seriousness on implementing prison reforms is that state government must “consider extending the time or frequency of meetings and also explore the possibility of using phones and video conferencing for communications not only between a prisoner and family members of that prisoner, but also between a prisoner and the lawyer, whether appointed through the State Legal Services Authority or otherwise.”

Observing that the “right to health is undoubtedly a human right” the Bench also directed state governments “to study the availability of medical assistance to prisoners and take remedial steps wherever necessary”. The Court also asked the Centre and state governments to consider the establishment of “open jails”.

The verdict also comprehensively addresses the juvenile convicts and undertrials who have died unnatural deaths while in custody or in juvenile justice homes and makes a pointed reference to how both the Centre and States were “oblivious to the possibility of death of children in custody in child care institutions” as no figure for such deaths was ever compiled. The verdict goes on to state that “it seems that apart from being ‘voiceless’, such children are also dispensable” and sets a deadline of December 31, 2017 for the Union ministry of women and child development to formulate procedures for tabulating the number of children who suffered unnatural deaths in custody or in child care institutions and take remedial measures.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

NDA’s Jagdeep Dhankhar becomes 14th Vice-President of India

Reports said Dhankhar secured 528 votes while Alva got 182 votes.

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Jagdeep Dhankar

NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar becomes the 14th Vice-President of India. Dhankar is currently serving as Governor of West Bengal and was pitted against Opposition’s Margaret Alva.

Reports said Dhankhar secured 528 votes while Alva got 182 votes. The counting of the votes was conducted under the supervision of the Lok Sabha secretary general who is also the returning officer for the poll.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Dhankhar on Twitter and hoped that his long public life, wide experience, and deep understanding of people’s issues will certainly benefit the nation.

Have a look at the tweet here:

As many as 780 MPs voted till 5 pm on Saturday and around 93 per cent polling was recorded in the vice presidential election this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were among prominent political leaders who cast their votes.

Jagdeep Dhankhar was appointed as West Bengal’s Governor in July 2019. He was a lawyer by profession before entering into politics and was enrolled with the Bar Council of Rajasthan as an Advocate with effect from November 10, 1979.

In 1987, he became the President of the Rajasthan High Court Bar Association and was designated a senior advocate in 1990. Jagdeep Dhankhar was a member of Congress when PV Narsimha Rao became the prime minister and quit the party after Ashok Gehlot came into power in Rajasthan.

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Maharashtra: Fire breaks out in godown and hutments in Reti Bandar in Mumbai

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

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Fire breaks out in godown and hutments in Reti Bandar in Mumbai

A fire broke out in a godown and hutments in the Reti Bandar area of Mumbai, Maharashtra, on Saturday at around 2 pm. The incident caused panic in the area.

The locals immediately informed the police and the fire brigade teams about the incident. Soon after, four fire tenders reached the spot. Efforts are being made by the fire department to extinguish the fire.

However, the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

So far, no injury or loss of life has been reported.

Read Also: Justice for Mandeep Kaur: Sikh woman dies by suicide in US due to domestic violence, DCW chief Swati Maliwal demands action

More details are awaited.

Maharashtra’s godown fire incidents

Earlier in June, a massive fire broke out in a flex printing godown in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. The fire later spread to two other godowns including one of AC.

Similarly, a fire broke out in a commercial complex in Maharashtra’s Thane in May, destroying four godowns and a motorbike showroom.

BJP leader Shrikant Tyagi booked for threatening Noida woman

Bhagwant Mann appears in Chandigarh Court over rioting case

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BJP leader Shrikant Tyagi booked for threatening Noida woman

 A shocking video went viral on Friday where the woman can be heard saying the BJP leader used bad words for her, for her husband and even for her children.

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Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shrikant Tyagi was booked on Saturday by the Noida Police for allegedly threatening a woman at the Grand Omax society in Noida.

A shocking video went viral on Friday where the woman can be heard saying the BJP leader used bad words for her, for her husband and even for her children. He pushed her and allegedly threatened her with dire consequences. The incident took place when the woman objected to the plantation of some trees by Shrikant Tyagi in her housing society.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Women Safety) Ankita Sharma Said that Shrikant Tyagi was booked under section 354 of the Indian Panel Code. The panel describes that whoever assaults or uses criminal force on any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty shall be punished with imprisonment of two years, with a fine, or with both.

Read Also: Jammu and Kashmir: At least 8 students injured after bus falls into gorge in Udhampur district

Some reports said that a team of local police visited the housing society in the evening but Tyagi didn’t open the door of his house.  He allegedly threatened police officials too.

Shrikant Tyagi claims himself as a national executive member of BJP’s Kisan Morcha and national co-coordinator of the Yuva Kisan Samiti. However, the BJP denied the claim of Shrikant Tyagi.

BJP MP and Kisan Morcha chief Rajkumar Chahar said that Shrikant Tyagi was not an executive member of the BJP’s farmer unit. There was no Yuva Committee of Kisan Morcha too. Chahar also demanded his punishment as per the law of the land.

 Bhagwant Mann appears in Chandigarh Court over rioting case

Monkeypox: Health ministry issues precautionary measures

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