Protecting prisoners: Reforms must secure rights of inmates

Prison reforms must be directed at securing the rights of inmates

The focus of public and judicial concern over the situation prevailing in India’s prisons has in recent times been related to overcrowding and long spells of incarceration faced by indigent inmates too poor to obtain bail. On some occasions, such as when the horrific blinding of prisoners in Bhagalpur took place over three decades ago, the stark human rights situation also attracted attention. The brutal murder of a woman life convict in the Bycullawomen’s prison in Mumbai on June 23 has brought the focus back on custodial violence, especially the vulnerability of inmates to authoritarian behaviour. The allegation that prison guards targeted Manjula Shette, a lifer brought to the jail a couple of months ago from the Yerwada Central Prison in Pune as a warder, over some missing rations is indeed startling. It is said she incurred the wrath of the guards because of her rising popularity among the women prisoners. This suggests that until her arrival the inmates may not have been accustomed to even rudimentary care from the jail authorities. Eyewitnesses say that when the warder was severely assaulted by the guards, it led to a riot-like situation among the prisoners. It is not difficult to surmise that simmering discontent over the prevailing conditions, and an intense animus between the guards and the inmates, were behind the events. It is some consolation that the police have arrested six prison officials for the custodial murder.

It is disconcerting that the untoward incident took place at a time when the Maharashtra government had been directed by the Bombay High Court to undertake a comprehensive review of the conditions in three major prisons in the State. As per the March 2017 court order, an empowered committee was to be constituted to look into all aspects of the jails in the light of Supreme Court decisions, the Model Prison Manual of 2016 and relevant UN resolutions. In particular, the panel was to suggest measures to create modern jails and modernise amenities. In the last half century, the superior courts have passed a series of orders to reform jails. The issues range from prisoners’ rights, health, hygiene and access to legal aid, to the condition of women inmates and their children. The judiciary’s approach has been anchored in the belief that fundamental rights “do not part company with the prisoner at the gates”. The Union Home Minister released a model jail manual last year. It makes clear that the state is under an obligation to protect the residuary rights of prisoners after they surrender their liberty to a legal process. One can only reiterate a principle already enshrined in it: the management of prisons must be marked by firm discipline, but also due regard to the human rights of prisoners. Prison reforms are not only about amenities and conditions; they must also address the prisoner’s right to life. Source : THE HINDU


1) Incarceration (क़ैद कर देना ) (Noun) :  in-kar-ser-e-shun
Meaning - the state of being confined in prison
Synonyms -  imprisonment, confinement, custody.
Antonyms -Freedom , redemption , discharge , Emanicipation
Example - His conviction of an armed robbery at a bank led to his incarceration.

2)Indigent (दरिद्र) (Adjective) :  in-di-jent
Meaning - used for a person who is very needy and poor
Synonyms -  poor, needy, penniless , insolvent ,impoverished , underprivileged
Antonyms - Wealthy , affluent , opulent , prospersous , rich
Example - If your family is indigent, you may be able to get scholarships that are reserved for poor students.

3) Animus (दुश्मनी ,विरोधपूर्ण भावना) (Noun): an-uh-mus
Meaning -  an intense feeling of loathing or disgust; hatred
Synonyms -  hostility, conflict, feud.
Antonyms - Affinity , companionship , empathy ,adoration
Example - My animus towards my roommate stems from the fact he is constantly stealing my food.

4) Simmering (क्रोधित,) (Adjective): sim-er-ing
Meaning -exist in a suppressed state.
Synonyms - furious, enraged, angry.
Antonyms - Erupting , calm , cool
Example - The simmering controversy now appears to be coming to an end.

5) Wrath  (कोप)  (Noun):- vra-th
Meaning - intense or extreme anger
Synonyms -  irritation, rage , fury , indignation.
Antonyms- love , happiness , calmness , delight
Example - Since the police have not arrested the crooked officers on the force, they now have to deal with the public’s wrath.

6)  Stark (निरा ,साफ़ )(Adjective) :  stahrk
Meaning - plain ; without decoration , severe or bare in appearance or outline.
Synonyms -clear, simple, basic.
Antonyms - lush , filled , cheerful , bleak
Example -The house’s living room was stark and held only one couch.

7) Inmate (कैदी) (Noun): in-meyt
Meaning - a person living in an institution such as a prison or hospital.
Synonyms - prisoner, convict, captive.
Antonyms - outpatient , tourist , free ,
Example - His plan was to keep every inmate of every cell under constant close observation

8) Enshrine  (प्रतिष्ठापित करना) (Verb)  :  en-shrahyn
Meaning - preserve (a right, tradition, or idea) in a form that ensures it will be protected and respected.
Synonyms -  to enclose in, treasure, sanctify, protect (as valuable).
Antonyms - defile , desecrate , debase
Example - A lot of memories are enshrined in this photograph album.

9)Untoward  (अभागा) (Adjective):  un-to-ward
Meaning - unexpected and inappropriate or inconvenient.
Synonyms - unlucky , indecent , improper , awkward
Antonyms - happy , proper , apposite , fortunate
Example - Untoward circumstances prevent me from being with you on this festive occasion.

10) Surmise (शंका )(Verb) : sur-mise
Meaning : to guess that something is true
Synonyms : assume, suppose; guess/suspect.
Antonyms : Knowledge , proof , confirmation
Example - Without knowing the facts, the judge chose to surmise the defendant was guilty.

11) Startling (चौंकाने वाला ) (Adjective) : star-tling
Meaning - very surprising, shocking, or unusual
Synonyms - surprising, shocking, astonishing.
Antonyms -  unsurprising , predetermined , mundane , ordinary
Example -  As the lottery numbers were revealed, it was startling to hear the first five numbers on my ticket.

12) Demit  (Verb)  -  पदत्याग करनाMeaning -  to give up a job or position by telling your employer that you are leaving
Synonyms - resign, relinquish, abdicate, renounce
Antonyms - occupy, claim, assert, retain
Example (English) - Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi demitted office yesterday.
Example (Hindi) - मुख्य निर्वाचन आयुक्त नसीम ज़ैदी ने कल कार्यालय से पदत्याग कर दिया।

Now considering the article above as a Reading Comprehension , try to answer the following questions-
  • What does author mean by fundamental rights “do not part company with the prisoner at the gates” ?
  • What reason is cited in the passage behind the wrath of Guards for Manjula Shette ?

Now it's time to check your vocabulary . We have given below some words from the same article . Try to make sentences with these words in the comment section which will be reviewed by us.
  • Prevailing (प्रचलित)
  • Rudimentary (मौलिक)
  • Discontent (असंतोष)
  • Disconcerting (चिंताजनक)
  • Obligation (कर्तव्य)
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