Prisoners entitled for emergency leave irrespective of time served

Mohamed Imranullah S.

Minimum requirement stipulated under Rule 22 of TNSSR will not apply: court

Minimum three years of imprisonment required for availing ordinary leave

Superintendents bound to dispose leave requests, cannot keep them pending

MADURAI: Prisoners applying for emergency leave to attend weddings or funerals need not have undergone a minimum of three years of imprisonment, which is required for availing ordinary leave, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Allowing a writ petition filed before the Madurai Bench, Justice R.S. Ramanathan held that the minimum requirement stipulated under Rule 22 of Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules (TNSSR), 1982, would not apply for emergency leave.

As per Rule 6 of TNSSR, a prisoner can be granted emergency leave for attending the wedding of his son, daughter, brother or sister. Rule 7 states that only convicts sentenced for a fixed term or for life can avail the benefit.

The next two rules deal with the mode of applying and the documents, such as wedding invitation, to be tagged along with the application. Rule 10 empowers the superintendent of the prison to grant or reject the applications.

The prison superintendent has the power to verify the genuineness of the enclosed documents through the Probation Officer or police station concerned. In case of emergency, such as attending a funeral, the verification can be made over phone.

Further, the grant of leave depends upon the conduct of the inmate. On receipt of leave applications, the superintendents are bound to dispose them as per the rules and cannot keep them pending without passing any orders, the Judge said.

In the instant case, G. Vellaiammal from Pattam village in Sivaganga district had sought a direction to Tiruchi Central Prison Superintendent to grant emergency leave to her husband C. Govindan convicted in a culpable homicide case.

She claimed that her son’s marriage was originally fixed on April 27. It was postponed to June as the prison superintendent did not respond to the emergency leave application. There was no response even to a second application made on May 19 and hence the writ petition.

Arguing for prison officials, a Government Advocate said that the convict surrendered only in September 2008 after the High Court disposed of his appeal against the trial court judgement and imposed seven years of rigorous imprisonment. His request for leave was not considered as he had not completed three years in prison.