SC notice to Centre, 11 states on PIL alleging caste-based discrimination in jails

The petitioner claims that prison manuals of 11 states discriminate in the allocation of work and lodging based on caste, particularly affecting certain de-notified tribes and habitual offender

The SC directed the compilation of jail manuals from the 11 states and scheduled a hearing in 4 weeks. (photo: National Herald archives)
The SC directed the compilation of jail manuals from the 11 states and scheduled a hearing in 4 weeks. (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 3 January sought responses from the Centre and 11 states, including Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, on a PIL alleging that the prison manuals of these states encourage caste-based discrimination in jails.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of senior advocate S Muralidhar's submissions that the jail manuals of these 11 states discriminate in allocation of work inside their prisons and caste determines the places where inmates are lodged.

Certain de-notified tribes and habitual offenders are treated differently and discriminated against, the senior lawyer said.

The court asked Muralidhar to compile jail manuals from the states and listed the plea for hearing after four weeks.

Issuing notices to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and others, the bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist the court in dealing with the issues raised in the PIL filed by Sukanya Shantha, a native of Kalyan in Maharashtra.

“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...,” the court ordered.

“I have not heard of discrimination on caste... the segregation is usually based on undertrial prisoners and the convicts,” the solicitor general said.

Besides Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, the other states are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra.

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 1:14 PM
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