Delhi High Court seeks Central government response on plea challenging constitutional validity of solitary confinement
A notice has been issued to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Law and Justice by the Delhi High Court on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of provisions related to solitary confinement.
A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad have ordered the respondents for filing their replies within six weeks and listed the case for further consideration on May 23.
Advocate Harsh Vibhore Singhal who has filed the PIL challenges Sections 73 and 74 (both relate to solitary confinement) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and many other sections of the Prisons Act, 1894.
The counsel said that the solitary confinement is neither defined in the IPC nor in the Prisons Act. It added that it is a gross aberration of law and no court can assume that just because a heinous crime is committed, a convict also deserves solitary confinement.
The plea compares the solitary confinement to a venomous lethal sting of a veritable scorpion; which is sadistic, barbaric and an inhuman practice of consigning prisoners into dingy malodorous dungeons by abusive prison officials.
Talking about the solitary confinement , the counsel said it was inhumane since it cuts off an inmate from sensory, visual and social society and that even the Supreme Court has said that such punishment can be used only in rarest of rare circumstances.
The plea mentioned that the Supreme Court ruled that solitary confinement for prisoners awaiting death must be for “rarest of rare” cases.
It further said that,Justice Vaidyanathapuram Rama Krishna Iyer had said in a case that solitary can only be carried out under prior instructions of a sessions or a higher court.
It is pertinent however to note that the jail superintendents routinely use solitary confinement to extract acquiescence and obeisance without judicial oversight.