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Supreme Court seeks response from Centre, 11 states on caste discrimination in prisons

On a plea alleging that prison manuals in some states encourage caste-based discrimination between prisoners, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Union government along with 11 States.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud along with Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra said the matter was serious.

The bench called upon Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta to assist the Court in addressing the matter as this was an urgent matter.

The Court said that let all the State manuals be put in a tabulated chart.

The Solicitor general SG Mehta said that the situation was unacceptable. He also asked for the need to make joint efforts in tackling the same.

The Apex Court received the plea filed by journalist Sukanya Shantha who stated that in prison barracks there exists a caste-based discrimination which extends to manual labor assignments, affecting denotified tribes and those categorised as habitual offenders.

The petition asked for withdrawing the discriminatory provisions found in various State prison manuals.

The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate S Muralidhar, who said there have been instances where Dalits are confined to separate prisons while individuals from other castes are held in different areas.

The advocate also apprised the Court that this was nothing recent as such caste based discrimination begin right from the time one steps into the prison.

The Court after having heard brief the preliminary submissions, issued notice to the Union government, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

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