The Supreme Court has suggested that large corporations create private jails in response to its concerns about the state of the nation’s prisons. The Supreme Court ruled that large corporations can construct private prisons as part of their CSR.
The Concept of Anticipatory Jail
“In Europe, there is a concept of private jails. Then there is corporate social responsibility. If you give them sufficient inducement you can have jails built. Because you don’t want the public exchequer to be used for that. There is an alarming number of under-trial prisoners.
“They will build it and give it to you and claim deduction under the Income Tax. A new concept will emerge. Then a new concept will evolve, from anticipatory bail to anticipatory jail,” said a bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy.
Over-crowding of Jails
The statement was made in response to senior attorney Kapil Sibal’s claim that only Ayurvedic physicians are accessible to treat patients in jails while he was arguing on behalf of activist Gautam Navlakha. According to the highest court, studying prisons is of the lowest priority of the government.
As per prison rules, undertrials should not be put together with convicts, the Court noted. “We can’t make their lives inhumane, ” Justice Joseph remarked, adding that even animals are treated better than the prison inmates.
The Bench also highlighted that when the system (in prisons and jails) is so bad, there’s always a tendency to seek revenge.
“There’s forced homosexuality. If you are a visitor, you can see. All kinds of things happen there. That adds to a tendency to take revenge against the system. Especially because it let you down when you needed it the most.”
A chance at redemption
The Bench also emphasised how stunning the jails are in nations like Sweden and Norway and how well-equipped they are for the inmates. However, in India, it might not be possible.
“It’s like a resort. They have an attached bathroom, TV and everything”, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said. “Their concept is that nobody is beyond redemption”, Justice Joseph said. Justice Roy further pointed out that visiting jails is a great learning experience to understand ground realities.