In what can be rightly termd as a whip, the Supreme Court on Friday directed all high courts across the country to register petition on a suo-moto basis to identify kin of prisoners who died unnaturally while serving prison term after 2012.
The apex court, in its direction also mentioned that the state governments should make arrangements for suitable compensation to the kin of those died in custody and also establish open prison as a part of jail reforms so as to prevent overcrowding.
The bench which consisted of Justice M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta who passed the directions also told the state governments to appoint the relevant manpower like counselors in order to councel the prisoners specially the first time offenders.
The bench said that custodial death is a crime in itself and that any amount of monetary compensation may not be adequate to the next of kin of the deceased. The Supreme Court also directed the state governments to make medical facilities available to the prisoners.
Presently the court is hearing a PIL on suicides and poor conditions in 1382 prisons across the country. The Centre have been directed to circulate the prison manual, Nelson Mandela Rules and guidelines on investigating deaths in custody issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross within one month to prison incharges of every states.
Article 21 of the Constitution lays down provision for Protection of life and personal liberty under which No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.