Supreme Court on 13 March 2015 asked the Union Government to provide information on the number of prisoners languishing in jails even for petty criminal cases which are bailable offence. These prisoners have been in jail for not paying the bail or surety bond amount.
The bench also asked the Additional Solicitor General NK Paul, appearing for the Union government, to appraise it of utilisation of 609 crore rupees meant for carrying out prison reforms.
Further, it also asked the state governments and Union territories (UTs) to cooperate with the Union government and provide requisite information within three weeks.
The information was sought by the Social Justice Bench of SC comprising of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice UU Lalit. The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging inhuman conditions prevailing in 1382 prisons across the country. The inhuman conditions in prisons are the direct result of overcrowding of prisons.
History of Prison reforms in India
- 1835: Modern prison in India originated with the Minute by TB Macaulay
- 1846: Central Prisons were constructed
- 1894: Enactment of Prison Act which is the basis for present jail management in India
- 1951: Dr WC Reckless report titled Jail Administration in India called for transforming jails into reformative centres
- 1957: All India Jail Manual Committee set up that made forceful plea to amend Prison Act, 1894
- 1960: Model Prison Manual prepared that formed the basis for present prison management in India
- 1980: Mulla Committee on Jail reforms recommended for formulating National Policy on Prisons
- 1987: Justice Krishna Iyer Committee recommended induction of more women in the police force so as to tackle women and child offenders
- 1996: SC in Ramamurthy vs State of Karnataka case called for bringing about uniformity nationally of prison laws
- 1999: Draft Model Prisons Management Bill (The Prison Administration and Treatment of Prisoners Bill- 1998) was circulated to replace the Prison Act 1894
- 2002-03: Union Government launched Modernisation of Prisons scheme for construction of new jails to reduce overcrowding in jails.
- 2007: Draft National Policy on Prison Reforms and Correctional Administration, 2007, prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) recommended for inclusion of the subject of Prisons in the Concurrent List which at present is a State subject.