The expression ‘protective custody’ is a euphemism calculated to disguise what is really and in truth nothing but imprisonment.
It is an expression intended to appease the conscience. It cannot be gainsaid that women who have been kept in jail under the guise of ‘protective custody’ have suffered involuntary deprivation of liberty for long periods without any fault on their p Article We may point out that this so-called ‘protective custody’ is nothing short of a blatant violation of personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, because we are not aware of any provision of law under which a woman can be kept in jail by way of “protective custody” or merely because she is required for the purpose of giving evidence.
The Government in a social welfare state must set up rescue and welfare homes for the purpose of taking care of women and children who have nowhere else to go and who are otherwise uncared for by the society. It is the duty of government to protect women and children who are homeless or destitute and it is surprising that the Government of Bihar should have come forward with the explanation that they were constrained to keep women in ‘protective custody’ in jail because a welfare home maintained by the State was shut down. We direct that all women and children who are in the jails in the State of Bihar under ‘protective custody’ or who are in jail because th eir presence is required for giving evidence or who are victims of offence should be released and taken forthwith to welfare comes or rescue homes and should be kept there and properly looked after.