The Prisoners Act, 1900

The Prisoners Act, 1900 was enacted on 2nd February, 1900. The act lays down laws for prisoner convicted by court of law. The act under section 2 of the Act defines terms such as court, prison and states. Court shall mean and include all courts i.e. civil, criminal or revenue. Prison shall be any building declared as prison by an order of the state. The act is divided into two parts with respect to prisoners within territory of Presidency towns and outside the territory of Presidency towns.

Section 3 of the Act enumerates that officer in charge of prison shall take care of all person’s handed over to him by the orders of the court after observing due process of law. The law necessitates the officer in charge to duly return writs, orders, warrants after endorsing these which shall also be duly signed by him.

Part II of the Act deals with Prisoners in Presidency town. The court shall direct warrant of arrest to police officers within the jurisdiction of the court. The State government may appoint such officers who shall have power to receive and detain prisoners in their custody. The Act necessarily directs court to pass orders of committal of person sentenced to death to superintendent under section 7 of the Act. The order shall be passed along with warrant. Similar orders shall be passed Presidency Magistrate under section 10 of the Act. High Court shall pass an order of commitment against a convicted person who shall be handed over to superintendent along with warrant; superintendent will then present the person before magistrate before transferring him to prison.

Any person against whose application of insolvency, is a judgement debtor or an order under section 350 of Civil Procedure Code is pending shall remain under custody of superintendent till produced before the High Court and released in due course of law.

Part IV of the Act deals with prisoners outside presidency towns which shall include prisons and reformative homes. For prisons outside presidency town officer incharge of police station shall give effect to order of detention passed by any court or tribunal functioning within jurisdiction of the state.

The act lay that warrant of court shall be sufficient authority to detain a prisoner. The act under section 17 also lays provisions for instances wherein the detaining authority is unsure of the legality of warrant passed by the court.

Section 18 of the Act shall apply in certain situation where state has passed death sentence but the same is not executable due to lack of secure place of confinement, it shall be the duty of prison officer to carry out the warrant in secure conditions.

Part VI of the Act deals with removal of prisoners under section 29 in situation such as under death sentence, life imprisonment, default of payment of fine and security in such cases the inspector general shall warrant for removal of prisoner.

Section 30 of the Act deals with lunatic prisoners, incase it appears to State that an inmate has become lunatic or is of unsound mind such prisoner shall be removed from prison and shall be kept in asylum within the jurisdiction of the State, where he shall serve remainder of his sentence. Such prisoner shall be given proper medical treatment and shall be governed by section 9 of the Lunatic Asylums Act, 1858. Once such prisoner recovers from mental illness he shall be removed from asylum.

Section 32 of the act deals with places of shelter required to be given to a prisoner during transportation. The act also lays provisions for pardoning of prisoners on recommendation of High Court. The state government shall appoint places and persons in this regard.

The Act is a comprehensive legislation which deals with provisions relating to confinement of a person pursuant to an order of the court. It covers all the aspect in relation to detention and also takes care of the interests of prisoners to some extent.

by Vibhuti Nakta.