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Projects

Under-trial prisoners and unnecessary detention - Over the last few years, we have started focusing more broadly on under-trial prisoners. Our aim is to ensure systemic implementation of the existing legal provisions that guarantee the prisoners their rights. Our focus is not so much on their corporeal rights, as their right to be released on bail and to be tried within a reasonable time.

More than sixty five per cent of the prison inmates in India are awaiting trial. Policy makers in India have recognized the magnitude of the problem, but the lack of implementation of the existing provisions and the proposed ones is the primary reason afflicting the prisons in India. Therefore, ensuring the implementation of Section 436/436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is one of our primary goals.

Section 436A Cr.P.C. lays down the right of an under-trial to apply for bail once s/he has served one half of the maximum term of sentence s/he would have served had s/he been convicted. On a bail application filed under this section, the court shall hear the public prosecutor and may order the release of such person on a personal bond with or without surety; or release the person on bail instead of personal bond; or continue his/her detention. This section further proscribes the detention of an under-trial beyond the maximum period of punishment prescribed for the offence that s/he is alleged to have committed. Therefore, in effect, this section prescribes the maximum period an under-trial can be detained in any case.

Prison Visiting System

CHRI undertook a study on the existing system of prison visiting in the state of Andhra Pradesh in August 2004. The study primarily focused on the functioning of non-official visitors and examined the state of the statutorily mandated prison visiting system in Andhra Pradesh.

In particular, CHRI studied how prison visitors are selected; what criteria is used to identify and finalise nominations; what understanding Non-official visitors have of their roles, responsibilities, rules and laws that govern the prison; whether visitors fulfill duties and functions according to the statutory guidelines in the prison manual and court judgments that form part of the law; what is outlined in the constitution of visiting boards in terms of the periodicity of visits, the processing of visiting notes and of action taken on the observations made by visitors; and the mutual perceptions and the relationships between the prison visitors and prison staff.

CHRI studied how prison visitors are selected; what criteria is used to identify and finalise nominations; what understanding Non-official visitors have of their roles, responsibilities, rules and laws that govern the prison; whether visitors fulfill duties and functions according to the statutory guidelines in the prison manual and court judgments that form part of the law; what is outlined in the constitution of visiting boards in terms of the periodicity of visits, the processing of visiting notes and of action taken on the observations made by visitors; and the mutual perceptions and the relationships between the prison visitors and prison staff.

The study and its observations are based on visits to 20 prisons between January 2005 and July 2005 by a study team that interviewed 66 prisoners, 53 non-official visitors, 17 prison doctors, 11 judicial and legal aid officers, retired prison officers, social workers in the prisons and 7 district magistrates. The secondary data for the study was collected from prison headquarters. In order to ensure a sound empirical basis for recommendations we reviewed data, administered questionnaires to all the officials and non-officials concerned with the prison visiting system, and supplemented these with personal interviews with prisoners, prison staff, district magistrates, retired prison officers and Non-official visitors.

Rajasthan

In 2009, CHRI launched a three-year intervention to ameliorate unnecessary detention in Rajasthan, where we worked previously to strengthen the prison visiting system. The first step in this project is gathering unimpeachable data on the scale and nature of the under-trial population that has spent five years or more in jail without trial or conviction. The team collects and collates this data through collaborations with prisons stakeholders and the engagement of the Right to Information Act. Simultaneously, we are assessing the functioning of the legal aid system, improving and catalyzing judicial mechanisms designed to check unnecessary detention and increasing the public visibility of these issues.

Orissa

The study in Orissa began in the summer of 2009 with an aim to examine whether the prisons in the state house under-trial prisoners in contravention of the existing provisions on bail as well as under sections 107 and 109 of the Cr.P.C. The study seeks to determine the reasons for non-implementation of the existing legal provisions. We are currently working on the report, which contains recommendations for the state government and the subordinate judiciary on how to ensure the implementation of the existing law. It also contains suggestions for the prison officials, state legal services authorities, and the board of visitors on steps that could be taken to avoid unnecessary detention and overcrowding. A key target group for this report is the prison department and the civil society in the state which could play an important role in monitoring the implementation of the above mentioned Cr.P.C. provisions.

West Bengal

CHRI started work in West Bengal in 2009 where we acquired a list of under-trial prisoners who had been detained for more than one year in the correctional homes of the state. Upon an analysis of the list, we came across a number of prisoners who could be released under section 436/436A Cr.P.C (link to pamphlet) With these results in hand, members of the team met with the Inspector General of Correctional Homes in Kolkata and discussed possible interventions to get them released. The efforts finally led to the release of 52 under-trial prisoners on personal bonds/bail under section 436A Cr.P.C in the state of West Bengal.

 

 
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Joint Letter to HRC Members on Sri Lanka

Statement on Human Rights Defenders

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules)

Re Inhuman conditions in prison SC order 24.4.15

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 and the FCR Rules - Points for consideration

Hear the Message, Don't Shoot the Messenger - Curbing Voices of Dissent in the Name of Regulation

CHRI CONCERNED OVER ALLEGATIONS OF POLICE VIOLENCE & ARBITRARY ACTION DURING ANTI GOVERNMENT RALLY

Breaking the silence"- CHRI's Press note on Sri Lanka's RTI

CHRI's critique of Tanzania's ATI Bill 2015

Tanzania's ATI Act 2015 (Bill)

CHRI celebrates the release and repatriation of Khan Zaman

Incidence of rape-torture-death in Prisons

Acquittal of Accused Pac Personnel in the 1987 Hashimpura Killings

Call for Proposals - Crime Victimisation Survey

Call for Quotations Website Maintenance

POLICE REFORM WORKING GROUP (PWRG) STATEMENT ON CABINET SECRETARY

Call for implementation of UNSC resolution on humanitarian access for Syrians

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JointLetter BRICS Summit Fortaleza

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VAW statement - item 3 - 11 June 2014

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Upcoming UPR review for Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho Granada and Guyana

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Humanrights Initiative

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