“After the first Crèche in Tihar Jail by Dr. Kiran Bedi, the Supreme Court of India in its guidelines in 2006 held that “As per Hon’ble Supreme Court Guidelines given in Writ Petition (Civil) No.559/1994 in the matter R.D. Upadhyay Vs. State regarding mothers and children lodged in Jails, no child in prisons is treated either as an under trial or a convict during the stay with his/her mother.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that a child up to six years of age shall be admitted to prison with his mother if no other arrangements, for keeping him with relatives or otherwise, can be made. Children born in prison may remain with their mothers up to six years of age, if they cannot otherwise be suitably placed. It felt that the “children of women inmates, who are in jail, require additional protection”.
The Court also issued directions to ensure that the minimum standards are met by all States and Union Territories vis-a-vis the children of women prisoners living in prison as prisons in India are a state subject. The guidelines were later laid in the Prison Manual 2016 prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) under MHA, Government of India. They are as follows:
- There shall be a Crècheand a nursery school attached to a prison for women where the children of women prisoners shall be looked after.
- Children below three years of age shall be allowed in the crècheand those between three and six years shall be looked after in the nursery school.
- The crèche and nursery school shall be run by the prison administration preferably outside the prison.
- Children in prison shall be provided with adequate clothing suiting the local climatic requirements. For this the State/UT Government shall lay down appropriate scales. Scales of diet for children shall be decided keeping in view the calorific requirements of growing children as per medical norms and climatic conditions.
- Children shall be regularly examined by a Lady Medical Officer to monitor their physical growth who shall also be vaccinated for various diseases including polio and small-pox at the appropriate time.
- Extra clothing and diet may also be provided to such children on the written recommendations of the Medical Officer.
- The children of women prisoners living in the prison shall be given proper education and recreational opportunities. While their mothers work in prison, the children shall be kept in crèches/nursery schools under the charge of a matron/female warder.
Amongst the 17 Goals of Sustainable Development, Goal No. 4, Target 4.2 states to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education, because education has the potential to empower people – to build, access to information, services and help them improve their lives by breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be met if the poorest and most marginalised people continue to be left behind by progress. But if we do not reach out to the most invisible young children, India will never be able to fully track its progress against this mandate. Particularly, we must urgently look at developing systems within jails that helps India realise its commitment for Target 4.2
Total nos. 2, 133 Children reached through Crèche Projects in Prisons