Courts can’t issue such directives: State Public Prosecutor
MADURAI: A direction issued by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court to provide food and shelter to the convicts in the Imam Ali escape case, who were enlarged on bail, will set a “bad precedent” for more than 40,000 convicts in the region, State Public Prosecutor Raja Elango said on Wednesday.
He made the submission before Justice P. Murgesen while seeking deletion or modification of the June 27 directive. “Neither the Criminal Procedure Code nor any other legislation empowers courts to order food and shelter for the convicts let out on bail. An order which is not envisaged in any law should not be passed by this court,” he said. The State was liable to provision of food, shelter and medical facilities only to remand prisoners, convicts languishing in jail and those under police custody. “It is under no obligation to provide such facilities to convicts who have been bestowed with the benevolence of the bail provision,” he said.
Claiming that it was “highly impossible” for the State to provide such facilities, Mr. Raja Elango said the convicts on bail too did not have any right to food and shelter at the State expense. He alleged that the convicts were bossing over the policemen and demanding non-vegetarian food and packaged mineral water. When the judge pointed out that the directions were given with the consent of a former Additional Public Prosecutor who argued the case in June, Mr. Elango said: “The APP exceeded his brief and agreed to the directions. Subsequently, I instructed him to file a modification petition, but he erroneously filed a stay petition which was dismissed by this court.”
Counsel for the convicts claimed that it was the constitutional duty of the government to provide food and shelter because they were confined to Vellore as part of their bail condition. “How will we survive when we are not permitted to live with our families in Madurai? We do not have the resources,” a counsel said.
Later, Mr. Justice Murgesen adjourned the matter to September 13. A fast track court here convicted 37 persons on January 10, 2007 for picking up two fundamentalists, Imam Ali and Hyder Ali, from police custody on March 7, 2002.