Delhi HC directs Tihar jail to give meditational therapy, involvement in sports, arts to homicide convict

Delhi HC directs Tihar jail to give meditational therapy, involvement in sports, arts to homicide convict

Murali Krishnan

In another major attempt to change the landscape of punishment under criminal justice system, the Delhi High Court has issued a slew of directions to the Tihar Jail Superintendent in treating a homicide convict.

The directions were issued by a Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra in a case involving killing of a man.

By way of background, the Court was hearing an appeal filed by one Naval Kishore, who was convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge for murder under Section 302 of IPC. However, the High Court set aside the conviction under Section 302 holding that Naval Kishore had acted in the heat of passion and there was no pre-meditation involved. It, therefore, held the accused guilty under Section 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

It is then that the Court has proceeded to discuss the quantum of sentence. The Court ordered that the convict be sentenced to eight years rigorous imprisonment.

The Court then considered mitigating factors like the fact that the accused had no previous convictions against him. Stating that the current development in penology lays emphasis on reformation and rehabilitation instead of retribution, it held,

“The current development in penology is the emphasis of reformation and rehabilitation of the offenders instead of retribution in this regard, the implementation of the Model Prison Manual as directed by the Supreme Court in W.P(C) 406/2013 vide order dated 05.02.2016 and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955…”

Based on the above, it directed the Superintendent of Tihar jail, where the convict will be lodged, to consider an appropriate programme for the convict.

“The concerned Superintendent at the Tihar Jail, New Delhi where the appellant shall be incarcerated for the remainder of the term of imprisonment as hereinabove directed shall consider an appropriate programme for the appellant ensuring, if feasible :

  • appropriate correctional courses through meditational therapy;
  • educational opportunity, vocational training and skill development programme to enable a livelihood option and an occupational status;
  • involvement in sports activities and creative art therapy
  • shaping of post release rehabilitation programme for the appellant well in advance before the date of his release to make him self-dependent,
  • ensuring in terms of Chapter 22 clause 22.22 (II) Model Prison Manual 2016, protection of the appellant from getting associated with anti – social groups, agencies of moral hazards (like gambling dens, drinking places and brothels) and with demoralised and deprived persons;
  • adequate counselling being provided to the appellant to be sensitized to understand why he is in prison;
  • conducting of Psychometric tests to measure the reformation taking place; and
  • that the appellant may be allowed to keep contact with his family members as per the Jail rules and in accordance with the Model Prison Manual.”

Besides, the Superintendent has to send a Bi-annual report to the Court,  till the date of release of the convict, indicating the measures being adopted for reformation and rehabilitation of the convict.

This would be the second such instance this month when a Court in Delhi has alluded to the reformative theory of punishment under criminal law. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had held that death penalty breaches reformative theory under criminal law thereby setting aside the death penalty awarded to a convict and instead awarding him life imprisonment.

Read the judgment below. 

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