“Corporal Punishments in Prisons are Unconstitutional”: PIL before Delhi High Court

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A PIL has been filed before the Delhi High Court against corporal punishments in prison. It is unconstitutional, says the PIL.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed today in Delhi High Court challenging the constitutional validity of corporal punishment in prisons for indiscipline.

The division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad posted the matter to be heard on May 23 along with another plea by the petitioner against solitary confinement.

Several articles of the Prisons Act, of 1894 relating to the corporal punishment of convicts for acts of disobedience have been challenged in the PIL. The petition asserted that the clauses violate Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 20(2), and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

"That impugned sections make prisoners vulnerable to corporal punishments having no nexus with misconduct and are disproportionate to any legitimate objective. Corporal punishments gravely infringe prisoners' human and fundamental rights, are dehumanising and degrading and get compounded by the derisive sadistic laughter of obstreperous and vituperative prison masters supervising such punishments," the plea submitted.

It has been submitted that prisoners are still whipped on bare buttocks, given less food, handcuffed etc for minor prison misconduct.

The plea further submitted that corporal punishment of inmates is “degrading, demeaning and sadistically cruel” and thus, is unconstitutional.

It has been argued that corporal punishment significantly violates the human and fundamental rights of inmates, is demeaning and degrading, and is exacerbated by the "derisive sadistic laughter of obstinate and vindictive prison masters" who supervise such treatment.

It is also argued that the sections are discriminatory and promote corruption and only those who are “unable to ingratiate officials” suffer.

The plea stated that India has ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibits all degrading treatment.

Case Title: Harsh Vibhore Singhal vs. Union of India