Unlocking Freedom: Supreme Court’s Take on Open Prisons

In a recent case of Suhas Chakma vs Union of India and ors, a Bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta suggested the implementation of more open prisons akin to those in Rajasthan. The Court highlighted this approach as a potential remedy for prison overcrowding and emphasized its role in facilitating prisoner rehabilitation.

Justice Sandeep Mehta, drawing from his background in Rajasthan, highlighted the benefits of such a system, where prisoners can engage with the community during the day and return to confinement in the evening.

Consequently, an additional Amicus Curiae was appointed for an ongoing case concerning the welfare of prisoners. Moreover, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) was tasked with providing assistance.

“We, therefore, request Mr. K Parameswar, who has worked on these issues, to assist us as Amicus, in addition to Mr. Vijay Hansaria who is already assisting us. We also request Ms. Rashmi Nandakumar who appears on behalf of NALSA also to assist us next Thursday,” the bench stated in its order.

The court was addressing a 2020 public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Suhas Chakma concerning the well-being of prisoners.

In recent times, the Indian judiciary has emphasized the importance of utilizing open-air prisons or open jails. In March, the Chhattisgarh High Court mandated the State government to explore the feasibility of implementing this approach.

Similarly, the Allahabad High Court instructed the Uttar Pradesh government to assess the potential benefits of ‘open jails’ for the rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals.

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About the Author: Payal Singh