The Supreme Court seeks reply of 10 states on rights violation of death row convicts

The Supreme Court has sought response from Director General of Police (Prisons) of ten states on the issue of alleged violation of human rights of prisoners awarded death sentence.

The DGPs (Prisons) have been also asked to reply on the issue of solitary confinement, legal representation, visitation rights of prisoners’ families and psychiatric consultation of death row convicts.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked DGP (prisons) of ten states to reply to the letter of Amicus Curiae advocate Gaurav Agarwal, who has raised the issue of alleged violation of prison manual and human rights of death row prisoners.

“We would require the Director General (Prisons) to respond to the communication sent by amicus curiae since it concerns human rights of prisoners who are in custody and who have been awarded death sentence,” the bench said.

The ten states include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Bihar.

The bench sought the replies of DGP (Prisons) by May 8.

Agarwal has written a letter to officials of ten states after Dr. Anup Surendranath, an assistant professor at National Law University at Delhi moved the apex court with an interlocutory application seeking intervention on the alleged violation of rights of prisoners.

He had raised various concerns about violation of certain provisions of State prison manuals and human rights of prisoners especially, those have been awarded death penalty.

As a follow up to Dr. Surendranath’s application, Agarwal wrote to DGP (Prisons) of ten states on March 13, seeking their responses on issues concerned.

The apex court had voiced concern on the issue of overcrowding of prisons across the country, saying prisoners have human rights and they can’t be kept like animals.

It had termed the situation as “extremely unfortunate” and said it is was “complete lack of commitment” on part of state government and union territories towards human rights of prisoners.

The top court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.

The apex court had on February 21 asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to look into the issue of overcrowding of prisons and furnish figures before it regarding the population in jails where occupancy was over 150 per cent as on December 31 last year.

It had earlier expressed shock at the large number of people languishing in jails in “complete violation” of their rights despite recommendations for their release by the legal services authority and had termed the situation as unacceptable.

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