Nainital: The Uttarakhand High Court today declared the practice of solitary confinement unconstitutional. While upholding the sentence of capital punishment awarded to two convicts by the lower court, the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh said the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners laid down that solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort. It shall not be imposed by virtue of a prisoner's sentence, the bench said.
Solitary Confinement Unconstitutional: HC
The Court further held that the practice not only amounts to additional punishment but also amounts to torture and is violative of basic human rights.
The bench made the observations while upholding the capital punishment to the two convicts in a case relating to the gangrape and murder of a 55-year-old woman.
The bench observed that U.P. Jail Manual lays down that warden shall not allow any person to communicate with the convicts sentenced to death, except the prescribed authorities and that the convict must me secluded for 23 hours a day.This is against the Nelson Mandela Rules.There is no scientific reason as to why the convict sentenced to death should be kept in isolation. It causes immense pain, agony and anxiety to the condemned convict. It is violative of Articles 20(2) and 21 of the Constitution of India, the Court said. A man, even sentenced to death, has certain privileges and rights which cannot be denied to him due to colonial mindset. The provisions of U.P. Jail Manual are anarchic, cruel and insensitive, the Court added.