SC Believes That Open Jails While Help in Decongesting Prisons

Supreme Court Rejects PIL Challenging Three New Criminal Laws

In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India has proposed the establishment of open jails as a strategic response to the dual challenges of prison overcrowding and prisoner rehabilitation. Open prisons, which allow inmates to work outside during the day and return in the evening, aim to facilitate the integration of convicts into society while alleviating psychological pressures associated with incarceration.

The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, emphasized the potential benefits of open prisons, citing the successful implementation of such a system in the state of Rajasthan. By providing inmates with opportunities for employment and social interaction outside prison walls, open jails not only mitigate overcrowding but also address the crucial aspect of prisoner rehabilitation. This approach aligns with broader efforts to reform the criminal justice system and promote societal reintegration.

Challenges in Prison Reforms

During the hearing, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) informed the court that responses had been received from 24 states regarding open prisons. Despite this progress, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, acting as an amicus curiae, highlighted a significant gap in informing convicts about their right to appeal through legal services authorities. The court acknowledged the need for a uniform e-prison module to streamline prison management and enhance access to legal recourse for inmates.

Towards Comprehensive Reform

In its pursuit of comprehensive prison reform, the Supreme Court signaled its intention to consider the issue of open prisons within the broader framework of a national e-prison module. By leveraging technological solutions and legal assistance mechanisms, the court aims to promote uniformity and efficiency in prison management while ensuring the widespread adoption of open jail systems throughout the country.

The Supreme Court bench appointed advocate K Parameshwar to assist as an amicus alongside Vijay Hansaria in further deliberations on the matter. Additionally, counsel representing NALSA was requested to provide continued assistance to the court in navigating the complexities of prison reform. The case has been scheduled for further hearing on May 16, indicating the court’s proactive stance on addressing critical issues within the criminal justice system.

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About the Author: Hemansh Tandon