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Official Website of West Bengal Correctional Services, India - Consultation

Imprisonment and The Law : a report on the proceedings

The Context:

The West Bengal Correctional Services have been working with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative for sometime particularly to help the correctional home authorities in helping the prisoners languishing in our correctional homes due to the long pre-trial detention. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is an organisation working for the practical realisation of human rights in the commonwealth. CHRI believes that the promotion and protection of human rights is the responsibility of governments but that the active participation of civil society acting in concert is vital to ensuring rule of law and the realisation of human rights. In addition to the broad human rights advocacy programme, CHRI advocates access to justice and access to information. As part of its access to justice programme, the prison reforms programme focuses on increasing transparency of a traditionally closed system and exposing malpractices.

In line with this, the members of the prison reforms programme of CHRI organised a Consultation – ‘Imprisonment and the law’ – in collaboration with the West Bengal Correctional Services at Kolkata on 22 August 2009. The aim was to discuss the various facets of the law governing incarceration. The prime areas of discussion were the important legal provisions pertaining to prisoners’ rights, bail, women prisoners and the duties of prison officers.

The Design:

The Consultation brought together correctional services staff i.e. senior correctional services officers, superintendents, medical officers and welfare officers from all the correctional homes in the State. The Consultation was designed as a dialogue among equals and sought to identify areas which require special attention and action and formulate recommendations to support the correctional home administration. All the sessions were designed to be an amalgamation of short presentations, interactive discussions and informed interventions.

Session I explored the rights of prisoners, as enlisted under the Constitution of India, Supreme Court judgments and the West Bengal Correctional Services Act 1992.

Session II focussed on the various legal provisions as given in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, which prohibit unnecessary detention of under-trial prisoners and sought to bring out ways to implement them.

Session III shifted the focus towards women prisoners and the standards to be maintained whilst administering correctional homes for women. After these informative sessions the last session was interactive which sought to discuss the problems and challenges that the delegates face in day-today administration of their correctional homes.

The Proceedings:

The welcome address was delivered by Justice Ruma Pal, former judge, Supreme Court of India who is also on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. She welcomed all the delegates on behalf of CHRI and spelt out the mandate of the organization. She informed the delegates about the various areas of reforms that CHRI presently works on. She also shared some of her experiences in the field of human rights and imprisonment.

Sri BD Sharma, Inspector General of Correctional Services in the inaugural address expressed gratitude to CHRI for having organized the Consultation in West Bengal. He informed that the West Bengal Correctional Services have not had many GO-NGO partnerships and the present Consultation would be beneficial for all AIsG, DIsG, superintendents, welfare officers and medical officers who have been asked to participate in it. He further stated that though the state


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