This article highlights the need for the criminal justice system in India to consider elderliness as a ground for compassionate treatment towards older prisoners, and to uphold their rights to healthcare and to live with dignity.
Deblina Dey, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
The vexed relation between law and age/ageing is most apparent in the context of older prisoners. Late life may be accompanied by disabilities and dependencies. So, access to appropriate forms of care including medical care becomes even more crucial in custodial institutions like prisons where older prisoners live isolated from society. Since the spread of COVID-19, there have been attempts to decongest Indian prisons.
However, older political prisoners charged (not convicted) for antistate, terrorist activities continue to suffer in prison due to denial of bail. I argue that elderliness and the condition of health ought to be factors on which bail should be given irrespective of the nature of the charges.
By using the framework of ‘law as temporality’, I elucidate how the politics around the denial of bail by courts in India and the treatment of older political prisoners by prison authorities lead to the production of a ‘carceral time’. This article discusses how carceral time structures the embodied experiences of ageing in ways that defy the human rights of prisoners.
Time not only disciplines but also determines the expendability of ageing bodies, particularly when time is an insidious form of waiting, as in the case of older political prisoners in the Bhima Koregaon case in India. This article highlights the need for the criminal justice system in India to consider elderliness as a ground for compassionate treatment towards older prisoners, and to uphold their rights to healthcare and to live with dignity.
Published in: Jindal Global Law Review
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