This article was written by N. Sethu Kiran a student of V.R. Law college.

Solitary confinement is the worst kind of practice; there are many real stories that have been affected by solitary confinement. Indian Supreme Court Judgment says that Solitary confinement is an isolation of the prisoner from co-prisoners and complete segregation form the society; it is an extreme measure to be invoked in exceptional cases only [1]. Misusing of the solitary confinement against convict degrading the fundamental right of prisoner and it is against the spirit of Indian Constitution. Being in solitary confinement the most of the prisoner may be stressful experience with potential harmful health effects. The prisoner separated from the other inmates, who lead to mental and physical pain and suffering [2].


 The question is implementation of solitary confinement is essential? The main purpose of using solitary confinement is to reform the prisoner and it is also used as additional measure for protection of prisoner. It is rarely exercised in cases like hardened criminals in severe crimes. The question is that imposing the solitary punishment leads to the violation of article 21 and 19? Absolutely practicing the solitary confinement is violation of article 21 and article 19. The article gives us Protection of life and personal liberty in those cases restricting the person who is either prisoner has to enjoy the complete rights that are established by constitution by article right to life. In the Unni Krishnan & others V. State of Andhra Pradesh & others case as per Supreme Court right against solitary confinement is one of the rights that falls under article 21 of the constitution [3]. Another important question is that whether solitary confinement is Maltreating by Prison authorities? In my sense I will agree with it one of cases related it is zabiuddin ansari case, the suspect zabiuddin ansari who is suspected for planning and coordinating of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, he has been protest against the prolonged solitary confinement in trial detention. The Maharashtra government said that it is necessary to ensure zabiuddin safety. But solitary confinement is only the way to protect and safeguard prisoners? It cannot leave to whim and caprice of prison authorities [4]. Is solitary punishment is degrading the dignity of humans? Compulsorily I agree with that because everyone has right to live his life with all the freedoms which are lawful. The law must be right, just and fair not arbitrary or fanciful or oppressive. One of most important case about solitary confinement is Sunil Batra case keeping the prisoner in the solitary rooms for longer period is regarded as barbaric and would amount to violation of fundamental rights[5]. In the medical sense is solitary confinement is a best practice to impose on prisoners? Undoubtedly no because it will cause many metal illness problems and Solitary confinement is a shortcut to the socio psychological ‘death’ of prisoners. It has severe, adverse and irreversible psychological impact. In 2011, lawyer and human activist JUAN E MENDEZ said that prisoners who spend more than 15 days in solitary confinement may be prone to irreversible psychological damage [6]. The deprive person who is in that practice, therefore have been some exceptions imposed on them. According to section 73 and 74 of I.P.C, 1860.

Section 73: Whenever any person is convicted of an offence for which under this Code the Court has power to sentence him to rigorous imprisonment, the Court may, by its sentence, order that the offender shall be kept in solitary confinement for any portion or portions of the imprisonment to which he is sen­tenced, not exceeding three months in the whole, according to the following scale, that is to say—

A time not exceeding one month if the term of imprisonment shall not exceed six months;

 a time not exceeding two months if the term of imprisonment shall exceed six months and 1[shall not exceed one] year;

A time not exceeding three months if the term of imprisonment shall exceed one year.

Section 74: In executing a sentence of solitary confinement, such confinement shall in no case exceed fourteen days at a time, with intervals between the periods of solitary confinement of not less duration than such periods; and when the imprisonment awarded shall exceed three months, the solitary confinement shall not exceed seven days in any one month of the whole imprisonment awarded, with intervals between the periods of solitary confinement of not less duration than such periods.

 It laid down some strict regulations of the imposing the punishment of solitary confinement [7]. United Nations also took many steps in the abolition of the practice of the solitary confinement. It also introduced Mandela Rules for treating the prisoners. For curtailment of this barbaric punishment United Nations introduced CAT (Convention Against Torture)[8] solitary confinement is a torture, it is a wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it also so intangible that there is no way to heel it. Practicing the solitary confinement is violative of Article 19 and 21 because these two Articles provide right to freedom and right to protection of life and personal liberty. Practicing this type of punishment in prison degrading the liberty of prisoner. by this Article 21 they had liberty to move, mix and mingle, talk, share, company with co-prisoners. It should be used as a last resort and reserved for a handful of extreme cases and it should be only used for shortest possible times and managed within established guidelines. For example,[9] Sarah Shourd a journalist who has been detained by the Iranian government in solitary confinement for 410 days. She said that sitting in a nearly empty cell is a mental sink, all your thoughts and your eyes constantly wondering around your cell. You never-ever stop asking yourself when I am going to get out. I suffered from insomnia, nightmares and emotional detachment. I often had violent panic attack and more than once I completely lost control and began screaming and beating at the wall of my cell until knuckles bleed. There are more than 80,000 men, women, and children in solitary confinement in prisons across the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics [10].




The article main aim is to create awareness among the society, how this solitary confinement degrading the human dignity. The consequences of the solitary confinement are inherently damaging and not good practice. It denies basic human rights [11] and it violates the basic concept of right to protection of life and personal liberty in Indian Constitution. The government often needs more reformative recommendations on imposing punitive punishments like solitary confinement. The persons who is kept behind the bar fetters shall be shunned as violative of human dignity within and without prisoners [12]. Researchers have observed the adverse effects of solitary confinement.


  1. Indian penal code—K.D Gaur—fourth edition.
  2. Source book on solitary confinement—author (SHARON SHALEV)
  3. Taxman’s Criminal Law and other concepts of Substantive Criminal Law—Author (VAGESHWARI DESWAL)
  5. Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration AIR 1978SC 1675: 1978 CrLJ 1741.
  7. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal (INDIAN PENAL CODE) 34 EDITION
  8. See the Human Rights Watch Report: Locked Up Alone: Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo, June 2008
  12. Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration AIR 1978SC 1675: 1978 CrLJ 1741.

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