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Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration


Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (I)
(AIR 1978 sc 1675)

In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (I) the practice of keeping undertrials with convicts in jail was regarded by the Supreme Court as inhuman.The Court held that it offended the test of reasonableness in Article 19 and fairness in Article 21.
The punishment of solitiary confinement like Shobraj case, was regarded as violative of Article 21 of the Constitution by statting that liberty to move, mix, mingle, talk, share company with co-prisoners, if substantially curtailed by keeping a prisoner in solitary confinement, would be violative of Article 21, unless the curtailment has the backing of law. The Court also held that bar-fetters make a serious inroad on the limited personal liberty which a prisoner is left with and therefore before such erosion can be justified it must have the authority of law.


Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration (II)
(AIR 1980 SC 1579)

In Sunil Batra v Delhi Administration (II), in furtherance of Prison reforms, the Judges set out guidelines to be prescribed and followed which were as follows:

  1. The State shall take early steps to prepare in Hindi; a Prisoner’s Handbook and circulate copies to bring legal awareness home to the inmates. Periodical jail bulletins stating how improvements and habilitative programmes are brought into the prison may create a fellowship which will ease tensions. A prisoner’s wall paper, which will freely ventilate grievances, will also reduce stress. All these are implementary of Section 61 of he Prisons Act.

  2. The State shall take steps to keep up to the Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners recommended by the United Nations, especially those relating to work and  wages, treatment with dignity, community contact and correctional strategies. In this latter aspect, the observations we have made of holistic development of personality shall be kept in view.

  3. The Prisons Act needs rehabilitation and the Prison Manual total overhaul, even the model manual being out of focus with healing goals. A correctional-cum-orientation course is necessitous for the prison staff inculcating the constitutional values, therapeutic approaches and tension-free management.

  4. The prisoners' rights shall be protected by the court by its writ jurisdiction plus contempt power. To make this jurisdiction viable, free legal services to the prisoner programmes shall be promoted by professional organisations recognised by the court such as Free Legal Aid (Supreme Court) Society. The District Bar shall,
    we recommend, keep a cell for prisoner relief.

Although no specific time limit has been laid down by the Judges as to the implementation of the above guidelines, they indicated the need of urgency in his regard.

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