NHRC notice to UP govt on chained prisoner

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh government, seeking its response within six weeks over the chaining of an 84-year-old ailing jail convict at a hospital bed in Etah district last month.

The NHRC notice said, “Keeping such an old and ill prisoner in jail indicates that the Sentence Review Board in the state is malfunctioning”.

On May 13, visuals of Baburam Balram Singh, too frail to move, breathing heavily and chained to a hospital bed in Etah, went viral on social media platforms.

Singh was found tied to a hospital bed in the non-Covid-19 ward of the hospital.

The director general (prisons) Anand Kumar had, thereafter, suspended the jail warder and ordered an inquiry.

Though it was earlier reported that the prisoner was 84 years old, the NHRC, based on the complaint, has mentioned his age as 92.

The NHRC notice sent to the chief secretary of UP, has sought a report about when the last meeting of the Sentence Review Board was held, how many cases are pending before it and in how many cases have sentences been commuted in 2020 and 2019.

The NHRC also asked the UP chief secretary to cite in his report as to what system is followed in jails for referring matters to the board.

The commission observed that under section 433 of Cr PC and Prison Rules, the government has powers to commute the sentence through the board. The functioning of the board should be improved for the protection of human rights of prisoners and decongesting jails to relieve the government from the burden of taking care of such old and ill inmates.