It is untenable that a prisoner’s caste identity and social status are used to burden them with degrading labour and unequal treatment in a free and democratic country. Casteist roles and discriminatory practices continue to be legally validated by various State Prison Manuals even today.


The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) defines all persons under the age of 18 as ‘children’. By making children’s consent irrelevant to the definition of its offences, the statute creates the legal fiction that all sexual contact with a child, so defined, is non-consensual. Green argues that statutory rape offences (which criminalise sexual contact based on age alone, regardless of consent, like POCSO) are instances of overinclusive criminalisation.


As security agencies continue to indiscriminately invoke provisions of the Act, courts must remember to adopt interpretations jurisprudentially closer to the principle of ‘bail, not jail’. By looking beyond the facts of a given case, the courts are likely to create a more equitable, and accessible, system of justice and ensure opportunities to do complete justice are not missed.


Shabnam and her partner Saleem were sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of seven members of Shabnam’s family. Over the years, all aspects of Shabnam’s life have become a public spectacle: from the “saga” of Shabnam and Saleem’s “bloody and murderous love” to her pregnancy and the birth of her son. As recently as March 2021, a mainstream news media channel reported on an incarcerated Saleem writing couplets in the memory of Shabnam, deemed his “Anarkali”.