Tamil Nadu

Puducherry IGP not empowered to take a call on granting leave for prisoners: HC

Holding that the Inspector General of Prisons in Puducherry has no authority to take a decision on granting emergency parole leave to prisoners, the Madras High Court has ordered that henceforth only the superintendents of individual prisons must take a call on the issue and an appeal against their rejections orders can be filed before the Chief Superintendent of Jails.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad also set aside an order passed by the IGP on December 11 against grant of EPL to prisoners and ordered that all rejection orders passed by him since then with respect to the inmates of the Central Prison at Kalapet should now be considered afresh by the Superintendent of the prison within 10 days.

After sifting through voluminous records, the judges came to a categorical conclusion that a hunger strike undertaken by the inmates of the central prison in December last was only due to denial of EPL to attend to emergencies such as paying a visit to their critically ill relatives and not because of the death of an under trial prisoner on November 27 as claimed by the IGP.

“Parole is a provision included in Prison Rules of Pondicherry to consider the genuine and bona fide grievance of convict prisoners to visit their homes,” the judges observed and held that the IGP had no authority to pass an order debarring the convicts from availing EPL without giving them an opportunity of hearing and in utter violation of principles of natural justice.

Though the Pondicherry Prison Rules of 1969 require maintenance of as many as 28 different kinds of registers in every prison, only nine were reportedly maintained in the central prison at Kalapet, the judges said. A perusal of those nine registers did not indicate that the reason for the hunger strike was the death of under trial prisoner Jayamurthy.

“It should be noted that the death occurred on November 27 and the hunger strike commenced on December 5. There is a clear gap of eight days. If death was the cause, hunger strike would have commenced immediately,” the Bench pointed out and wondered how could many entries in the registers had been erased despite a specific prohibition under the prison rules.

According to the rules, any correction in the registers should be made in red ink and counter signed by the person making those corrections. Further, the fact that no EPL having been granted to any inmate of the central prison since November 2018 fortified the stand taken by amicus curiae R. Vaigai that such denial was the reason for the hunger strike, the judges added.

“From the materials placed before us, it could be deduced that no action was taken by the Inspector General of Prisons during the hunger strike until the Principal District Judge (PDJ) visited the prison and requested the inmates to give up the strike,” the Bench said while passing interim orders on a suo motu case taken up on the basis of the PDJ’s report to the High Court.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 2:43:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/puducherry-igp-not-empowered-to-take-a-call-on-granting-leave-for-prisoners-hc/article26594355.ece

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