Madurai, Aug 1: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday directed Tamil Nadu Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) and Inspector General of Prisons to issue proceedings permitting the retention of a life convict lodged in Madurai Central Prison so that his nonagenarian mother could visit him whenever possible.Justice G.R.Swaminathan passed the order while hearing the petition of the life convict V.Radhakrishnan of Madurai. The petitioner was earlier lodged in Tiruchirapalli Central Prison and transferred to the Madurai Central Prison after his 92-year-old mother filed a plea before the Madras High Court, recently.
However, the prison authorities filed an appeal that was allowed by a Division Bench on the grounds that there was no provision under the prison rules to consider a relative’s request for transfer of prisoner.Apprehending that he would be transferred from Madurai Central Prison, Radhakrishnan with proven good conduct filed a petition seeking a direction to retain him at the Madurai Central Prison.The prison authorities submitted to the court that only the Inspector General of Prisons could take a final decision on transferring a prisoner.
The Judge said a bare reading of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules gave an impression that the prison authority could decide where the prisoner will reside. But then, no textual reading could remain constant. The jurisprudential ground beneath had shifted, he said. He observed that any decision of the administrator will have to take into account the principle of proportionality.The proportionality principle could be invoked while adjudicating the rights of a prisoner. This is because the expression ‘person’ occurring in Article 21 of the Constitution, included a convicted prisoner also. They were also entitled to certain fundamental rights, the Judge said.
Incarceration or conviction does not reduce a prisoner into a non-person. While there may be a sharp and drastic shrinkage of fundamental rights, there is still some residue left.“It is the obligation of the prison authorities to protect the human rights of the prisoners,” the Judge observed.The court took cognisance of the Model Prison Manual prepared by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which states that prisoners may be transferred from one prison to another so that they can be closer to their home district.
Therefore, subject to considerations of security, prison discipline and public interest, the competent authority is obliged to respect the choice of the convict prisoner, the court said.A convict prisoner is entitled to call upon the authority to house him in a prison where the rights conferred by the Mandela Rules (United Nations Rules on Treatment of Prisoners) can be exercised.If circumstances warranted, the authorities were always at liberty to pass appropriate orders transferring the petitioner to some other prison, the Judge said.UNI