Solitary confinement is an isolation of the prisoner from the other prisoners and complete segregation from society. It is an extreme measure and is to be rarely invoked in exceptional cases, of unparallel and atrocity. Solitary confinement is explained in section 73 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter called IPC).
Section 74 of IPC discusses the limit of solitary confinement. In Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration and Charles Sobhraj Vs. Superintendent, Central Jail, the Supreme court held that any severe isolation of a prisoner by the cellular detention under the Prisons Act, 1894 sections 29 and 30 is penal, and it should be done in the fair procedure, and in absence of which may lead to the violation of article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Prisoners right to be interviewed by press:
Prisoners have the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Also, the prisoners have the right to propagate their ideas through media subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
M. Hasan And Anr. vs Government of Andhra Pradesh And Anr.
In M. Hasan And Anr. vs Government of Andhra Pradesh And Anr. , in this case, two writ petitions were filed by the two petitioners where one petitioner was a documentary filmmaker and another was a freelance journalist who requested to interview two prisoners but the jail authorities refused to allow him to interview the prisoners.
Andhra Pradesh High court held that “the condemned prisoners sentenced to death, have the right to speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution like any other citizen, and right to propagate his or her ideas and views on any aspect through available media without any fear or favour as long as they stand the test of reasonable restrictions.”
Right of confidentiality:
R Vs. Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Daly in this case, the house of lords held that the prisoner has common law right to confidentiality in the legal correspondence and the right to respect for correspondence under the human right convention.
Limit of solitary confinement:
Solitary confinement in any sentence can be awarded not more than 14 days at a time for a maximum of 3 months. It must be awarded in intervals.
If imprisonment exceeds 3 months then solitary confinement should not exceed 7 days in a month. If the imprisonment does not exceed more than 6 months, then solitary confinement should be for 1 month.
If the imprisonment exceeds 6 months and does not exceed one year, then solitary confinement can be imposed for 2 months. If the imprisonment exceeds one year, then solitary confinement should not exceed 3 months.
Nyan Suk Mether Case
According to the proven medical and scientific records, solitary confinement if continued for a long time then may lead to insanity and many bound to produce mental derangement, which was also declared in the Nyan Suk Mether case.
Kishor Singh, Ravinder Dev Etc vs State of Rajasthan
In Kishor Singh, Ravinder Dev Etc vs State of Rajasthan case court held that solitary confinement can be imposed only in some exceptional cases for security reasons. It cannot be imposed on flimsy grounds like behaving in an uncivilized manner, loitering in the prison etc. Also, prisoners are not to be dealt with at the mercy of the prison authorities and it should be complying with natural justice.
If a person who is guilty of an offence is repeatedly committing other crimes on the ground that punishment awarded has had no effect in preventing the repetition of the offences, section 75 of IPC can impose the enhanced punishment as a liability on the person who is repeating the crimes.
When solitary imprisonment can be imposed:
Imprisonment can have two propositions:
- Proposition 1: Rigorous punishment:
The convicted prisoner on whom the solitary confinement imposed can be put to do the hard labour where he can receive minimum wages for his work. Rigorous punishment can be imposed only on some offences under the IPC.
- Proposition 2: Simple punishment:
Simple imprisonment means lighter offences. Solitary confinement can be imposed only in rigorous offences, not in simple offences.
Solitary confinement can be imposed only in rigorous offences, not in simple offences. It is subjected to some limitations under sections 73 and 74 of IPC as it may cause mental agony and mental pressure to the convicted person.