Internationally it is common that the children who spend their life in prison with his/her mother during the period of trial or sentence of the case are the biggest stain in the name of freedom of the life of children. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights talks about all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights but it is negation of freedom and equality for those children who birth under the premises of prison authority and living with mother in jail. Every born child needs more care and protection for physical, sociological, mental, physiological development of the child so it is the full responsibility of prison authority and state to provide better health, healthy food, clothes, separate utensils, separate space for sleeping, education and also provide all basic needs and making a proper plan for growth and development of children who living with mother in prison.
As we know the upcoming generation is the future of any country, if the upcoming generation is not good products of educationally, socially, intelligently then the future condition of the country will be not too good. Form the beginning of birth to at least 5 years every child needs more care and protection because this period is one of the crucial periods of physical, sociological development of children. If good health facilities, meals, foods, drinking water, and medical treatment do not provide during the age between 0 to 5 years of a child then it is very difficult for children to survive and maintain their growth properly. So basically, those children who reside in prison with his/her mother are unjust, unfair, or unreasonable and it is a high risk for the health of those children and also, they become physically, mentally weak. As recent data of the National Crime Record Bureau shows that the condition of the Indian jail system is not good in terms of providing adequate quality of foods, health facility to those children who living with mother in jail.
Article 21 of the Indian constitution talks about the right to life and personal liberty and also talks about that no person should be deprived of his life and personal liberty. So, when any person living in jail then it is the obligation and duty of the state to provide better health facilities, food, shelter, and drinking water to the people and protect them. The criminal justice system is reflecting the concept of punishment when someone commits an offense, he/she is punishable according to the law of land. Children who reside with mother in jail is innocent and they deserve better. The prison atmosphere hinders children from having basic childhood life but despite that, they are living in prison. This is a very serious issue in respect of a child, who living in jail without committing any offense. It is considered that violation of the criminal justice system and also a violation of the basic human right of children. It is the biggest loopholes of the criminal justice system that the mother is committing the offense and her small child face consequence.
The Law related to the betterment of Child Prisoners
United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners reflect that certain requirements concerning children living with their parents in jail. United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners are also called Nelson Mandela Rule.
United nations convention on rights of the child isis a type of treaty that provides the civil, political, economic, health care, and cultural rights of the children. There are various articles of the united nations convention on the rights of the child (CRC) talk about the rights of children. Like article 2 of CRC talks about that the children of imprisoned parents must not be discriminated against based on their parental status. article 3(1) of CRC stated that all actions relating to children which are taken by public and private social welfare institutions, legislative body, admirative authority, or court of law, the best interest of children shall be the primary objective. Article 9 of CRC stated that children should not be separated from his/her parents against their will.
Article 21 of the Indian constitution said that no person should be deprived of his life and personal liberty, article 21 includes a wider interpretation of rights. It also includes the right to livelihood, a good standard of living, hygienic conditions in the working place, and leisure. In the case of Puttappa Hommappa Talevar v. Deputy Commissioner, Dharwad, the court held that every person has the right to live with human dignity and right to life with human dignity includes adequate nutrition, clothing, and shelter facility to the person.
In the case of Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi, the Supreme Court held that the right to life means right to live with human dignity and it also includes adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter, and all basic human necessities of life. So that every child is right to live with human dignity with his mother in jail. and state insures to provide adequate nutrition and clothing and sperate hygienic quality of prison where less chance to get ill.
The model prison manual 2003, talks about the creche and nursery provide to all imprisonment children, in a separate place. In 1986 justice lyer committee set the guideline for the treatment of children with their parents in jail. In the case of Bachchey Lal v. State of U.P & Ors, the Allahabad high court directed the health secretary of state to ensure weekly visit and whenever necessary are made by the female doctors employed under the State Health Services Schemes for addressing the medical and diet and essential precaution needs of female prisoners and their minor children in their prison wards.
The current position of children with mother in prison
In 2015 data released by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) shows that 1597 women living in jail with their 1866 children in an Indian prison. Among all the states Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of children (422), followed by Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal, etc. The data of the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) reflects the numbers of children growing up in prison and spend their childhood. It is very difficult for children to grow healthy life and proper development in restricted spaces like a prison. Education, healthy food, and a healthy environment are very necessary for their proper growth. In the case of R.D Upadhyay v. the State of A.P, the Supreme Court of India was issued the guild line for children should not be deemed as convicted and children should be provided with healthy food, clothing, separate utensils, proper sleeping facility, health care, and another proper necessity facility.
In 2015 the data released by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) stated that 38% less than an adequate number of medical staff for taking care of prisoners in jail. So, in such a situation it is very difficult for a mother to properly take care of children in prison because the NCRB data shoes the poor condition of food and health facility in prison nation-wide. Healthy food, fresh atmosphere, care, and protection is a necessary requirement for the development and growth of every child in prison and it is the full responsibility of state and prison authority to provide better health, food and also the well-being of prisoners through proper care, budgeting, and adequate human resource planning.
What are the necessary steps for the betterment of children in prison
State and Jail administration must provide better health facilities, healthy food, primary education, toys, and clothing for those children who resining in jail with his/her mother. It is very necessary for physical, social, and mental development for children to created kinder garden types of infrastructure, playgrounds, teachers for teaching basic things, and also established a child development center in every prison. The government should enact legislation for the care and protection of the children who reside in prison with their mother.
In the end, I would like to say that children are the foundation stone and future of any society or country. If the foundation stone of society or country is not too strong then it is impossible for further growth and development of any society or country. Children need proper protection and care for mental, social, physical, and physiological growth. But when children living with mother in jail that time the chance are high for their mental, emotional breakdown and physical health problems. So, it is the responsibility of prison authority and state to provide proper protection for the development and proper growth of children.
- Dr. J.N Pandey, Constitutional Law of India, (Universal Law Agency, Allahabad, 2018, 55th edn).
- Jane Williams and Dr. Antonella Invernizzi, The Humans Rights of Children, (Roughtleg, 2016, 1st edn).
- Geeta Chopra, Child Rights in India, (Springer Nature, 2015, 1st edn).
Frequently Asked Question(FAQs)
- What is Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
- What is the legality of child prisoners?
- How NCRB hold an effect on prisoners?
- Which steps have to be taken for the betterment of prisoners?