On a petition seeking quashing of the Punjab jail manual provisions, also applicable to Haryana and Chandigarh, which provide for classification of prisoners as "better class" or "ordinary class" prisoners, the Punjab and Haryana high court issued notices to the Haryana government and Chandigarh
administration for April 30.
The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by advocate HC Arora, informed the division bench headed by chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri that classification of prisoners on the basis of family background, income or education level was unconstitutional.
Arora contended that prisoners could not be treated differently in jails since they could not be treated differently before the trial courts and all criminals were equal before law.
The petitioner has also sought high-level inquiry into the conduct of jail authorities in Haryana and Chandigarh for misusing their powers by granting better-class facilities to ineligible prisoners.
The court was informed that as per the information sought under the RTI Act, there were 35 prisoners in three jails at Hisar, Gurgaon and Karnal of Haryana, who had been provided "B Class" facilities and most of them were involved in murder, dowry killing, rape, kidnapping and fraud.
It was also informed that 11 convicts and under-trials were enjoying "B Class" facilities in Burail model jail, Chandigarh, who were involved in murder, abetment to suicide, gangrape and kidnapping for ransom.
In B-class facilities, inmates get facility of bedding, separately cooked food or allowed eating home-cooked food, newspapers and magazines, exemption from hard jobs, wearing clothes other than the prisoner's dress, and having more visitors than normal prisoners.