In the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court
WP(MD)No.15664 of 2019 and WMP(MD)No.12339 of 2019
1. The State of Tamil Nadu
2. The Additional Director General of Police /Inspector General of Prison, Chennai
3. The Superintendent of Prison, Central Prison, Madurai
4. The Superintendent of Prison, Central Prison, Trichy
Date of Judgement
19 July, 2019
Hon’ble Justice Mr. G.R. Swaminathan
Facts of the case
The petitioner was convicted of death penalty. Upon acceptance of his clemency petition, his punishment was reduced to life imprisonment. He was to remain in prison for the whole of the remainder of his natural life. He was originally housed in Trichy Central Prison. His mother wanted the petitioner to be transferred to Madurai Central Prison because of closeness to their residence.
The Single Judge Bench decided in favour of the requested transfer. The Division Bench set-aside the decision of Single Judge Bench on the ground that there is no provision in prison rules to consider transfer of a prisoner upon request of a relative.
A fresh transfer application was however considered as per Rule 568 of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983. The respondent 2, in response to the applicatin, transferred the petitioner to Madurai Central Jail for 3 months. The petitioner was to be re-transferred on expiry of the said period. Since, no order was passed thereupon, the present petition was filed.
Following issues were raised before he Hon’ble HC:
1. Where the prisoner is to be kept?
2. Whether the absolute discretionary power to transfer prisoners can be rested with respondents 1 & 2?
3. Whether the prisoner has any choice in this regard?
Decision of the Hon’ble HC
The HC, in the interest of society, security and prison discipline held that respondent 1 & 2 are competent authorities in adjudicating transfer of prisoners. The authorities, however, are obliged to respect the choice of the concerned prisoner. It was further held that choice of the prisoner can be governed by a variety of factors one of which is proximity to family residence.
The HC allowed the writ petition and recommended that the prisoner can be kept in Madurai Central Jail permanently for the remaining period of life imprisonment.
Sec. 59 of the Prisoner’s act, 1894 authorises the state government to enact rules for carrying out the objectives of the act. The state legislation in the present case is Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983. Rule 568 lays down the conditions for transfer of a prisoner; rule 570 authorises the inspector general and state government to sanction transfers from one prison to another.
It is clear from the provisions that the prison authority has the power with regards to transfer of prisoners. The power however, should be exercised reasonably and not arbitrarily. Further, the prisoner is a person within the meaning of Art. 21 of the constitution and is therefore entitled to certain fundamental rights. The court has a duty to strike a balance between safeguarding the public interest and protecting the human rights of the prisoner.
Edited by Sree Ramya
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje