Every living being is born free and has equal rights; no one including prisoners, shall not be subjected to torture or cruelty. Prisoners are also human beings and have a right to an appropriate standard of living, including food, drinking water, accommodation, clothing and comfortable bedding. The Prisons Act of 1894 was in place throughout the time of British administration in India, but the rights were consistently violated since the foreign and domestic convicts were treated differently due to prejudice. Due to the reality that a prisoner is always still a human being, the authors of the Indian constitution decided to grant prisoners some rights when India gained independence.

A prison is a location that is suitably set up for offenders to be kept in safe custody while being tried or punished. At first, it served only as a holding facility or a detention for criminals awaiting trial and the final punishment, but there came a point where incarceration gained legitimacy on its own.


Our prison system went through a significant modification once we gained our independence in 1947. The government showed particular interest in it. A team of specialists from the United Nations were asked to examine the jail system, and it was said that they made some recommendations to improve prisoners’ rights. It is shocking to see that many developed nations, including China and India, still lack legislated prisoner rights, yet our honorable judiciary has recognised a large list of these rights, and the government still continues to fight for the welfare of the inmates.

Even after punishment, a prisoner continues to be a living, breathing human being. Consideration has to be such a human being since he is also a citizen of India.The right to dignity guaranteed by the Indian Constitution is not diminished by the legal restrictions placed on one’s freedom. Even within bars, she or he is still entitled to basic human rights.

The Prisons Act of 1894, a century-old Act, had established state laws in India that control prisons. There are however very few States and Union Territories that have laws or regulations that were created in the twenty-first century, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Goa, Sikkim, and West Bengal. The modifications made to these state laws haven’t done much to advance the body of law that, among other things, protects prisoners’ rights.


  •  ARTICLE 14 

According to Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, the State shall not deny to any individual within the territory of India the equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws.  As a result, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution introduced the concepts of reasonable classification and the idea that love should be treated similarly. The Constitution of India and in particular, the Article 14 and its fundamental freedoms serve as a guide and foundation for the jail authorities to identify different prisoner categories and their classifications with the goal of reformation. 

Human dignity is integral to human rights. In a series of rulings, the Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the inhumane treatment of prisoners and gave the appropriate instructions to the prison and police authorities for protecting their rights. A human being’s treatment that violates human dignity, subjects him to unnecessary agony, and lowers him to the status of a beast would undoubtedly be arbitrary and subject to challenge under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

  • ARTICLE 19 

Six freedoms were guaranteed to all Indian people by Article 19 of the constitution. These freedoms include, for example, the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) and the right to join an association. Just as these freedoms are available for the citizens of India, detainees also have a right to utilize them. However the government may pose restrictions if and when required to exercise caution is the utility of such freedoms by prisoners. 

  •  ARTICLE 21 

No one must be deprived of their life or personal liberty, except in accordance with a legal process, according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The right to life and the idea of liberty are two ideas that are outlined in this article. It is made plain by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution that it is open to both free and confined individuals.



Although the Indian Constitution does not clearly establish the right to legal aid, legal professionals frequently show generosity to prisoners who cannot pay it or who could voluntarily contact a legal adviser. The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 lists free legal aid as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy in Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution. Although the Constitution’s article on free legal aid is the most important and explicit, courts may not always have the authority to enforce it. Nonetheless, following these rules is essential to applying the right laws. According to Article 37 of the Indian Constitution, the State must follow these guidelines.


The saying “Justice hurried is Justice worried” refers to how important a speedy trial is to a fair trial. Hence, a balance must be struck between the accused’s right to a swift trial and the prosecution’s right to a fair opportunity to prove the accused’s guilt. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is where the idea of a fast trial originates.One of the key objectives of the criminal equity conveyance system is the expeditious trial of crimes. Immediately after the court accepts the allegation, the prosecution must be instructed to reject the guilty party and clear the innocent one.

The fundamental principle of civilized criminal law is that a person is deemed innocent until and until they are found guilty of the charged offense. Article 14 (2) of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognises the presumption of innocence as a human right. According to Article 11(1) of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, anybody accused of a crime has the right to a public trial where they will be deemed innocent unless proven guilty in accordance with the law and will be given all the protections essential for their defense.


It wouldn’t be an overestimation of things to say that a Fair Trial is the edifice of criminal law and, in a sense, an quintessential component of a democratic, Rule of Law-based society. Denying a fair trial is equivalent to crucifixion of human rights. It is ingrained in the idea of fairness in the legal system. While emphasizing the principle of a fair trial and the application of the same during the trial, it is required of the Courts to determine whether, in a particular case or category of cases, reversal of the judgment of conviction due to non-compliance with a certain provision is inevitable or depends on reaching an undisputed conclusion that substantial injustice has occurred. 


The Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to live a life of dignity. The prisoners are likewise granted this privilege since their conviction does not render them inhuman. This right is a crucial component of the Indian constitution’s provision of the right to life. Every person’s life is valuable, and regardless of the circumstances, they should be treated with dignity to enable them to continue living.


The scope of human rights is an ever growing concept and prisoners’ rights have been acknowledged equally in order to spare them from both physical suffering and mental torture. The right to interview one’s family and friends is unquestionably covered by the Personal Liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Prisoners ought to receive both physical and mental protection. Individuals must get together in order to exchange information; this is a basic human right. Being their legal agents, consult attorneys make decisions that directly impact the case of the convicted. The visits from friends and family members provide them the mental stability they need to endure in such a terrible situation where no one knows each other.


The Honorable Supreme Court has frequently upheld the relevance of Article 21 and applied its ruling in several cases. The meaning of the word “life,” as used by Field J. in the well-known case of Kharak Singh v. State of UP, has been broadened. In the aforementioned instance, the court decided that the term “life” refers to more than just an animal’s existence. The prohibition against its loss applies to all the limbs and faculties that are used to enjoy life. The law also forbids the destruction of any other part of the body through which the soul communicates with the body, such as an arm or a leg, an eye, or another organ.


In the depths of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the honorable courts of India have introduced various fundamental rights for prisoners. In the case of Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, it was decided upon that prisoners have the right to visits from their family members in order to protect them from mental torture and maintain mental peace. This was a landmark decision that also upheld the right of prisoners to mental health. Every person has rights that are protected by Article 21 and cannot have those rights violated, not even by the state’s authority. 

In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang found that a prisoner has the right to express their feelings in writing and can publish that in the framework of the right to personal liberty. The second right is to pay fair wages to prisoners for the work they have performed while incarcerated. This has been done in numerous precedents, including Mahammad Giasuddin v. State of A.P., People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, state of Gujarat v. Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat, and Gurdev Singh v. State of Himachal Pradesh, with the goal of enabling prisoners to lead self-sufficient lives after their release. To be specific, it was decided that compensation must be paid and should not be less than the minimum stipend.


One of the worst groups of human beings destined to experience a clear fundamental right being violated is prisoners. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that the loss of fundamental rights does not result from imprisonment. The Supreme Court has so formally stated that a prisoner’s fundamental rights remain an enforceable reality, even if they are constrained due to their incarceration.

Thus, one could argue that while incarcerated, inmates are still entitled to all of their fundamental rights. Although the Indian Constitution does not openly and explicitly guarantee prisoners’ rights, Articles 14, 19, and 21 do so inferentially. Moreover, the Prisons Act of 1894 has measures for the welfare and safety of prisoners.



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