SC issues notices to GoI, 11 states over caste discrimination in jails

Yerwada Central Jail is a high-security prison in Yerwada, Maharashtra.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, issued notices to the Government of India and 11 states, including Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging that prison manuals in these states endorse caste-based discrimination within jails.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, took cognisance of senior advocate S Muralidhar’s arguments, which asserted that the jail manuals of these 11 states exhibit discrimination in the allocation of work within prisons, with caste determining the placement of inmates, as reported by PTI.

According to the senior lawyer, certain de-notified tribes and habitual offenders face differential treatment and discrimination. The court directed Muralidhar to compile jail manuals from the concerned states and scheduled the plea for a hearing after four weeks.

Notices were issued to the Ministry of Home Affairs and other relevant parties, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was tasked with assisting the court in addressing the issues raised in the PIL, filed by Sukanya Shantha from Kalyan, Maharashtra. The plea seeks the repeal of offending provisions in state prison manuals.

The court’s order stated, “The petitioner states that caste-based discrimination is there in barracks to the manual labour which is allotted and such discrimination among de-notified tribes and habitual offenders. The plea seeks repeal of offending provisions in state prison manuals. Issue notice to the Union and the state government…”

Solicitor General Mehta, however, expressed unfamiliarity with caste-based discrimination in this context, suggesting that segregation is usually based on the classification of undertrial prisoners and convicts. The 11 implicated states include Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.

Click to comment
To Top