Published on: 30 September 2022 at 21:54 IST
Noting the problematic circumstances of the country’s jails, the Supreme Court of India came up with a unique idea on Thursday to improve the lives of convicts.
A bench led by Justice KM Joseph proposed private jails and advised that wealthy corporations establish jails as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
“There’s a study of prisons. It’s one of the lowest priority for any govt. They have hospitals and schools to build. In Europe there’s a concept of private responsibility. Next is CSR, you can have jails built by corporates, an alarming rate of undertrials. They will build it and give it” Justice Joseph told Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta.
“This will prevent the State exchequer from being burned!” Justice Joseph said. While also mentioning that corporations may be eligible for reduced income tax breaks.
Then, from anticipatory bail to anticipatory incarceration, observed Justice Hrishikesh Roy, who was also on the Bench, in a lighter tone.
The dispute about jail overcrowding and lack of facilities erupted when the Bench was deliberating on a plea filed by Gautam Navlakha requesting to be transferred to house detention from Taloja Jail due to health grounds.
The Court today ordered that he be sent to the KEM Hospital in Mumbai for a colonoscopy and skin allergy treatment.
The Bench further stated that it opened the debate solely when Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal raised the problem of jail overpopulation.
Further, the bench stated that, according to prison standards, undertrials should not be housed with offenders.
Justice Joseph expressed that animals are treated better than the prisoners and we have no right to make their life more cruel.
The Bench further stated that when the system (in prisons and jails) is so awful, there is always a desire for vengeance.
“There is forced homosexuality, as visitors can witness. All kinds of things happen there, which contributes to a desire for vengeance against the system, especially when it let you down when you needed it the most. “
The Bench further stated that jails in nations such as Sweden and Norway are attractive and provide excellent amenities for their inmates. In India, however, this may not be possible.
“They have an adjacent bathroom, a TV, and everything,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.
“Their belief is that no one is beyond salvation,” Justice Joseph explained.
Justice Roy went on to say that visiting prisoners is an excellent way to learn about the ground realities. As the case came to a conclusion, Justice Joseph asked the SG to check into the subject whenever he had the opportunity.
The case will be heard again on October 21.