Human beings are born with equal rights and dignity. These are moral claims which are inviolable and inherent in all human beings by the virtue of humanity alone. They are dynamic, juridical as well as moral, cultural and philosophic conditions that define intrinsic value of a man and his inherent dignity[1]

Robertson defined human rights as, “those basic rights to which every man, woman and child living on the earth is entitled by the virtue of his being born as a human being[2] .

The Indian socio- legal system is based on mutual respect, non-violence, equal rights and human dignity of the human being. It is the human life that necessitates the human rights.  Being in a civilized society which is organized by law it becomes really important to ensure a dignified life for every citizen, including person who is confined in a jail because of his wrong  deeds. If a person commits a crime or is an under trial , it does not mean that by committing the crime, he terminates to be a human being and is deprived  of his basic human rights and human dignity.

“In our world prisoners are still laboratories of torture, warehouses in which human commodities are sadistically kept and where spectrums of inmates range from driftwood juveniles to heroic dissenters” as said by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.


A prison is considered as a place in which individuals are physically confined and are deprived of personal freedom to a certain extent.

Prison is an integral part of the criminal justice system of any country. The primary purpose of imprisonment is to protect society against crime.

Punitive methods of treatment of prisoners alone cannot achieve the goal of reformation of prisoners.

The State has a legal responsibility for protecting its citizens and providing certain basic privileges recognized by the Constitution of India.

Right to speedy trial is a right to life and personal liberty of a prisoner guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, which ensures just, fair and reasonable procedure. However, eighty percent[3] prisoners are under trials, and some of them are not released even after granting bail as they are unable to furnish surety bonds due to lack of money or verification of addresses.

It is always mentioned that delay in trial by itself constitutes denial of justice which is said to be’  justice delayed is justice denied.’

 Issues related to violation of Prisoner’s Rights

The Constitution of India speaks about a number of fundamental rights upon its citizens and various legislations dealing with rights of prisoners have been enacted. Despite having so many legislations various issues enlisted below pertain to the violation of prisoners’ rights.

  • 80 per cent[4] prisoners are under trials
  • Even though bail is granted, prisoners are not released.
  • Insufficient provision of medical aid to prisoners.
  •  Insensitive attitude of jail authorities.
  •  Punishment carried out by jail authorities not coherent with punishment given by court. Harsh mental and physical torture.
  •  High amount of surety ordered by courts which poor prisoners can’t pay.
  •  Rejection of surety bonds due to lack of money or verification of addresses, as poor prisoners don’t have houses.
  • Corruption and other malpractices.

Some basic legal rights which the prisoners possess are as follows:

  • The right of being provided with basic amenities of life such as edible food, drinkable water, clothing, sanitary washrooms etc.
  • Protection from bullying, racial harassment and violence among the prisoner.
  • If a prisoner wants to appeal for revision, he shall be provided with a competent lawyer.

The article has been authored by Shranja Sharma

[1] Dr. NV Paranjape, Studies in Jurisprudence and Legal theory 573(Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 7th. Edn., 2013)

[2] Robertson,A.H.: Human rights in the world, (1972) p.175



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