The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition by an Indian National League party office-bearer for a direction to the prison authorities to permit him to interview ‘Police’ Fakhrudeen, a terror-suspect, lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore. The petition was filed by the party’s general secretary, J. Abdul Rahim.

He submitted that the prisoner was his friend who was arrested and remanded in custody. He went to the prison on November 18 last year to interview the Fakhrudeen, but was told that only blood relatives would be permitted to talk. Aggrieved, he filed the present habeas corpus petition.

In a counter, the Superintendent of the Central Prison, Vellore, said Fakhrudeen was in legal custody duly remanded in a case for alleged offences, including murder, and under the Explosives Act.

He was lodged in prison on October 18 last year. The authorities also submitted a chart giving details of visitors who had met Fakhrudeen, including his counsel, P. Pugalenthi. The counter said the petitioner was an ex-prisoner under the TADA Act. He was not a friend or relative of the prisoner.

A Division Bench, comprising Justices S. Rajeswaran and P.N. Prakash, said the petitioner did not have a fundamental right to meet any prisoner. Visits to prison were governed by rules.

If there was any infraction of any rule, it could be challenged through appropriate proceedings. Certainly, the habeas corpus jurisdiction could not be invoked in a case of this nature where the prisoner was not in illegal detention. The person who claimed himself to be a friend wanted to meet the prisoner. Therefore, the Bench held that the petition was not maintainable.

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