INDIA: HC ABOLISHES SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR PRISONERS FACING DEATH PENALTY
December 17, 2018:
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on 14 December 2018 abolished the practice adopted by the jail authorities in Punjab to segregate convicts immediately after the pronouncement of death sentence by the trial court and its confirmation by the High Court. (Sources: The Tribune, 15/12/2018)
The ruling came as a convict escaped the gallows with the High Court commuting to life imprisonment the death sentence awarded to him by a Mansa court for raping and murdering a minor.
Directing the state to modify the Punjab Jail Manual, the Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Gurvinder Singh asserted that the convict would not be segregated or isolated till death sentence becomes final, conclusive and indefeasible and could not be annulled or voided by any judicial process.
The period to keep a convict sentenced to death in segregation or isolation was also required to be for “shortest possible time” of two to three days.
Dubbing solitary confinement as unconstitutional, the Bench asserted there was no scientific reason why the convict sentenced to death should be kept in isolation for indefinite period till he exhausted all his constitutional and legal remedies.