New Delhi- In response to the petition filed by journalist Sukanya Shantha, alleging caste based discriminations in prisons, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union government and eleven states. Notices have been issued to states including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.
The plea alleges that caste-based discrimination persists in prison barracks, extending to manual labour assignments, and adversely impacting denotified tribes and those categorized as habitual offenders.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra recognized the gravity of the raised issue and summoned Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta to assist the court in addressing it.
The petition seeks the repeal of discriminatory provisions found in various state prison manuals. Senior Advocate S Muralidhar, representing the petitioner, highlighted instances where Dalits are segregated into separate prisons, while individuals from other castes are held in different areas.
"Such discrimination based on caste exists from the moment one enters the prison," he added.The petition sought the removal of discriminatory provisions in the prison manuals.
"This is a highly significant matter that has been brought to our attention. We request SG Mehta to assist this court. Let all the state manuals be presented in a tabulated chart," the Court directed.
The Court, having acknowledged the gravity of the issue, called upon Solicitor General to assist in addressing the matter, emphasizing the need for joint efforts in tackling the unacceptable situation. SG Mehta condemned the situation as 'unacceptable' and stressed the necessity for collaborative efforts to address it.
The court asked Muralidhar to compile jail manuals from the states and listed the plea for hearing after four weeks.