Tamil Nadu

Judge comes to rescue of prisoners doing time away from home State

Empathising with prisoners lodged in jails outside their home States and who suffer due to language barrier, besides inability to be in touch with their families, the Madras High Court Bench here has called for a list of such prisoners by August 26 from the heads of department of prisons in all 29 States and seven Union Territories.

Justice S. Vimala suo motu included Additional Director General-cum-Inspector General of Prisons of all States and Union Territories as party respondents to a writ petition filed by life convict, T. Susanth Prathan, hailing from Odisha, but lodged in the Central Prison here. “Like this prisoner who is lamenting that he was not even able to attend his father’s funeral ceremony, there may be many other prisoners languishing in various prisons throughout the country. They may not have the facility of filing such petitions. Under such circumstances, there is a need to identify the requirements of those prisoners and given them the needed relief,” the judge said.

Beginning her order with former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer’s quote: “In our world, prisoners are still laboratories of torture, warehouses in which human commodities are sadistically kept and where spectrums of inmates range from driftwood juveniles to heroic dissenters,” Ms. Justice Vimala said it was time to change the situation.

Making it clear that rehabilitation, and not punishment was the prime idea behind incarceration, she said behavioural changes among prisoners could be expected only if disturbing conditions in prisons were eliminated. “Depriving the pleasure of communication with fellow prisoners and with family members would only bring counter productive results,” she added.

Procedural fairness

The judge recalled how the Supreme Court devised the concept of ‘procedural fairness’ in 1978 to safeguard the rights of those affected due to misuse of authority and said: “Now the question raised [in this case] is whether it is procedurally fair to keep a person, deprived of liberty, accustomed only to Odiya to be confined in a Tamil Nadu prison.”

Though the petitioner had been convicted by a Sessions Court in Ramanathapuram district in a murder case and the High Court Bench too had confirmed his conviction on November 21, 2002, the judge said it was not appropriate to have imprisoned him here for more than seven years, when his aged mother, wife and eight-year-old daughter were residing in Kendraporah district in Odisha.

Rejecting the contention of J. Katikia, a Government Pleader from Odisha, that the convict could not be shifted to his home State till the government in his State accepted a proposal sent by the Tamil Nadu Department of Prisons, the judge ordered transfer of the prisoner from the Central Prison here to Circle Jail, Cuttack at Choudwar, forthwith.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 9:38:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Judge-comes-to-rescue-of-prisoners-doing-time-away-from-home-State/article14580093.ece

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