Transfer of 5 accused in TP case to Central Prison in capital

The Special Additional Sessions Court (Marad Cases) here trying the killing of Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T.P. Chandrasekharan on Wednesday rejected a petition of Alexander Jacob, Director-General of Prisons and Correctional Services, seeking to transfer five prime accused in the case from the Kozhikode district jail to the Central Prison, Thiruvananthapuram.

The DGP (Prisons) had filed the petition following reports in the media that undertrial prisoners – M.C. Anoop (first accused); Manoj Kumar, aka Kirmani Manoj (second accused); M.K. Sunil Kumar, aka Kodi Suni (third accused); K.K. Mohammed Shafi, aka Shafi (fifth accused); and Shijith, aka Annan Shijith (sixth accused) — had been enjoying extra benefits within the jail premises, including using smartphones and posting their pictures on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The judge, R. Narayana Pisharadi, dismissed the petition on two aspects — one, “ensuing fair trial to the accused,” and second, “expeditious trial of the case without any hindrance.” The right of a person charged with an offence of murder to have the services of a lawyer at all stages of the case was an integral part of fair trial, the court said.

“Detention of the accused in a jail at a far-off place will curtail the right to have effective legal assistance. It is true that the trial of the case is in its final hearing stage. Even then, counsel will need frequent contact with the accused. Right of the accused for consultation with lawyer means effective and meaningful consultation.”

The court pointed out that “it is true that at the present stage of the trial, the physical presence of the accused on all days of hearing may not be necessary. But their physical presence in the court may become necessary at least on some days. It would be difficult to produce the undertrial prisoners from Central Prison, Thiruvananthapuram, to the court at Kozhikode. There was also no video conferencing facility in court.”

The court observed that the activities of the undertrial prisoners inside the jail that amounted to violation of jail rules had to be dealt with sternly.

What was required was effective supervision and control of the undertrial prisoners inside the jail.

Transferring the prisoners could not be an effective remedy to curb or curtail the illegal activities going on inside the jail.