Colin Gonsalve

Supreme Court heard the matter on 10th August about the increasing number of unnatural deaths in prison. Amicus Curiae, Gaurav Agarwal and senior advocate, Colin Gonsalve suggests various methods to reduce these unnatural deaths in prison across the country.

Amicus Curiae said that the distinction between unnatural death and natural death is not clear and so the data released by various agencies like National Crime Records Bureau and National Human Rights Commission is not correct on this subject.

Amicus Curiae said that if we analyse the data provided by NHRC and NCRB of suicides committed by people of our country and prisoners committing suicide then, we would find that the ratio of prisoners committing suicide is more.

70% of deaths in prison is suicide and we need more prison staff to ensure that the suicide rate is lower in prisons. The matters of prison are included in the state list and so it is the duty of the state to ensure that the number of prisoners committing suicide is reduced. But none of the state government responded and raise objections against the measures proposed by NHRC to reduce suicide in prison.

The measures which were proposed by NHRC were that there should be installation of CCTV’s and increase in prison staff. These measures are too general.

Agarwal pointed out that no prisoner voluntarily takes legal aid . In case of first time offenders , it is the obligation of the legal aid centres to approach them . Agarwal in his submission pointed out that Haryana has the highest number of prisoners committing suicide.

There is no data available as to why so many prisoners commit suicide , but is evident that these people do this in hopelessness and frustration in their mind. There should be psychologist in the medical team available in prison to listen to do problem of the prisoners and even to judge their attitude.

Also there should be open jails in every state, where prisoners leave in the morning and come back in the evening, Till now, there have been 19 open jails in our country and there is less than 1 % prisoners who have escaped the jail. This way the will feel open air and their thoughts would be refreshed .