HC Deb 21 November 1927 vol 210 cc1426-7W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to the Report of the Bombay Gaol Department for the year 1926; whether he is aware that according to this Report the use of the bel chain is still being continued in several gaols in the Bombay Presidency for tying prisoners together at night; that it is contemplated in the Report that the use of the bel chain will be continued as a permanent institution in the Upper Sind gaols, Sukkur and Shikarpur, during the very hot weather, and that it has been condemned by the Indian Gaols Committee as an inhuman device; whether this treatment is in force in other parts of India; whether the recommendations of the India Gaols Committee of 1920 have yet been carried out and, if not, what recommendations are still unimplemented; whether he is aware that the Report of the Bombay Gaol Department for the year 1926 shows that the number of floggings has been greatly increased; whether he can state for what crimes flogging in gaols is inflicted; and whether it is intended to continue this form of punishment?


I have seen the statement in the Report that it was anticipated that the use of the bel chain would be abandoned except in the Upper Sind gaols (Sukkur and Shikarpur) during the very hot weather, when it is imperative that prisoners should be allowed to sleep in the open air. The Indian Gaols Committee of 1919–20 condemned the use of the bel chain, though they recognised the occasional need for it, for example, when men are placed in insecure huts or tents. The Government of India expressed a hope that its use would be prohibited by Local Governments except when it is absolutely indispensable as a precaution against escape, and action has been taken in various parts of India to this effect, as well as towards carrying out various other recommendations of the Committee. The recommendations are too numerous to be dealt with by question and answer.

In the Bombay Gaols Report the number of floggings is given as 28 for 1926, as compared with 17 for 1925, and 40 for 1924. The floggings were for assaults and conduct seriously affecting the discipline of the gaol. It is not pro-posed to alter the law under which whipping as a gaol punishment is authorised, nor did the Gaols Committee advise that the entire abolition of corporal punishment for prison offences was possible.