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Madhukar Bhagwan Jambhale Vs. State of Maharashtra and Others - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCri. Writ Petn. No. 414 of 1983
Judge
Reported in1984(2)BomCR709
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14, 19(1), 21 and 226
AppellantMadhukar Bhagwan Jambhale
RespondentState of Maharashtra and Others
Excerpt:
criminal - prohibition - articles 14, 19 (1), 21 and 226 of constitution of india - petition filed by prisoner for challenging various rules and practices of prisons - prohibition imposed upon prisoners to express any view on any political matter challenged - similarly restrictions imposed upon prisoners to send welfare letters even to prisoners in other prison also challenged - prohibition imposed upon prisoners to express any view on any political matter violative of articles 14 and 19 (1) - restrictions imposed upon prisoners to send welfare letters to prisoners in other prison in case where they allowed to send letter to their relatives in other prison found discriminatory - both rules struck down. - - 2. in the month of july/august 1983 the petitioner complained to the prison.....shah, j.1. petitioner madhukar bhagwan jambhale, who was undergoing sentence and lodged in dhule district jail, made a complaint about torture and ill-treatment by the prison authorities by a letter to this court. overlooking all formalities the letter was treated as an application under article 226 of the constitution and rule was issued. miss. indira jaising was appointed advocate for him and on her appointment a regular formal petition under article 226 of the constitution came to be filed on september 26, 1983. in this petition, apart from the complaint against torture and ill-treatment, various rules and practices of the prison are challenged as violative of articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the constitution. thus what was initially a complaint about the treatment meted out to an.....
Judgment:

Shah, J.

1. Petitioner Madhukar Bhagwan Jambhale, who was undergoing sentence and lodged in Dhule District Jail, made a complaint about torture and ill-treatment by the prison authorities by a letter to this Court. Overlooking all formalities the letter was treated as an application under Article 226 of the Constitution and Rule was issued. Miss. Indira Jaising was appointed Advocate for him and on her appointment a regular formal petition under Article 226 of the Constitution came to be filed on September 26, 1983. In this petition, apart from the complaint against torture and ill-treatment, various Rules and practices of the prison are challenged as violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. Thus what was initially a complaint about the treatment meted out to an individual, the applicant before us, has assumed the character of class action on behalf of the convicts who are undergoing sentence in the prisons in this State.

2. In the month of July/August 1983 the petitioner complained to the prison authorities about deterioration of quality of food given to him. On August 13, 1983, he complained to the Senior Jailor that the Brinjal vegetables served in the morning meal contained worms caterpillars. According to him, this complaint went unheeded and on the contrary he was threatened with dire consequence. His request for being promoted as a watchman was also turned down. Out of frustration he swallowed nails. He was then taken to hospital and the nails were taken out. According to him, the Jail Superintendent resented this form of protest and he was beaten and when the petitioner demanded ration for the day, the Superintendent called for a pot of night soil and demanded that the petitioner do eat it. It is alleged that he was then put up in a double lock-up in a separate cell. He again swallowed three nails and was required to be taken to the hospital for taking them out. In view of the serious nature of allegations made against the Dhule Prison Administration, the District and Sessions Judge. Dhule, was asked to make an enquiry into the allegations. We, however, do not propose to deal with the aforesaid allegations since we find that material on record indicates that the petitioner is not consistent in his version about the incidents. Moreover, in his affidavit the Jail Superintendent has denied the allegations. According to him, the allegations are made by the petitioner out of frustration since his request for being promoted as a watchman was rejected. Assuming that the specific allegations made by the petitioner as to the quality of food and about his being asked to eat night soil may not be true, it does appear that he may be having some other genuine grievances against the Dhule Prison Administration. In the absence of adequate material, it is not possible for us to come to any definite conclusion in the matter. Miss. Jaising also fairly stated that in the circumstances she does not desire to make submissions regarding the alleged torture to the prisoner at the hands of the prison officers, particularly having regard to the fact that the prisoner was transferred to Yerawda Prison on November 7, 1983, during the pendency of this petition. She, however, submitted that this should not be taken as an admission of the petitioner that there was no torture or ill-treatment and the petitioner's right to take such proceedings against the prison officers as he may deem fit in a competent Court of law is not thereby affected.

3. The petition, however, has raised certain vital issues as regards the validity of certain Rules framed under section 59 of the Prisons Act, 1894. Firstly, the Rules regarding classification of convicts as Class I and Class II prisoners on the basis of higher status, better education and higher standard of living were challenged as discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Secondly, Rules 20, 17(ix) and 23 of the Maharashtra Prisons (Facilities to Prisoners) Rules 1962, which put restrictions on the rights of the prisoners to correspond and also provide for censorship are challenged on the ground that they violate their rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. Thirdly, it is contended that the double look-up system provided for some of the cells in Dhule Prison, though said to be intended as separate confinement under the Prison Rules, is in effect nothing but solitary confinement and, therefore, wholly impermissiblein law. Lastly, it is contended that the grievance procedure prescribed under the various rules is grossly inadequate and does not conform to the guidelines in the matter of grievance procedure laid down by the Supreme Court in Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration : 1978CriLJ1741 .

4. We may mention at the outset that the grievance about classification of convicts as Class I and Class II prisoners does not survive since the classification has been already abolished. It appears that Rule 3 of Part II of the Maharashtra Prisons (Admission, Classification and Separation of Prisoners) Rules 1966, provided for classification of convicted prisoners to Class I and Class II. However, this classification has been discontinued by Government Resolution dated January 1, 1971. As a result of this abolition of the classification, all convicts are entitled to the same facilities. The challenge to the classification of Prisoners as Class I and Class II, therefore, does not survive.

5-6. Before we turn our attention to the various Rules under challenge, it would be relevant to refer to the decisions of the Supreme Court which have consistently held that prisoner does not lose all his rights guaranteed under the Constitution. In D. B. M. Patnaik v. State of A.P. : 1975CriLJ556 it has been held that convicts are not by mere reason of the conviction, denuded of all the fundamental rights which they otherwise possess. A compulsion under the authority of law, following upon a conviction, to live in a prison house entails by its own force the deprivation of fundamental freedoms like the right to move freely throughout the territory of India or the right to 'practice' a profession. But the Constitution guarantees other freedoms like the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property for the exercise of which incarceration can be no impediment. Likewise even a convict is entitled to the precious right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution that he shall not be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. The Supreme Court further observed in that case as follows (Para 10) :

'We would like to emphasise once again, and no emphasis in this context can be too great, that though the Government possesses the constitutional right to initiate laws, it cannot, by taking law into its own hands, resort to oppressive measures to curb the political beliefs of its opponents. No person, not even a prisoner, can be deprived of his life or 'personal liberty' except according to procedure established by law. The American Constitution by the 5th and 14th Amendments provides, inter alia, that no person shall be deprived of 'life, liberty or property without due process of law'. Explaining the scope of this provision, Field, J. observed in Munn v. Illinois (1877) 94 US 113 that the term 'life' means something more than mere animal existence and the inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limits and faculties by which life is enjoyed'.

In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration : 1978CriLJ1741 the Supreme Court declared that it is no more open to debate that convicts are not wholly denuded of their fundamental rights. However, a prisoner's liberty is in the very nature of things circumscribed by the very fact of his confinement. His interest in the limited liberty left to him is then all the more substantial. Conviction for a crime does not reduce the prisoner into a non-person whose rights are subject to the whim of the prison administration and, therefore, the imposition of any major punishment within the prison system is conditional upon the observance of procedural safeguards. In that case the Supreme Court after referring to its earlier decisions in State of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang : 1966CriLJ311 . Maneka Gandhi : [1978]2SCR621 held that the law is that for a prisoner all fundamental rights are as enforceable reality, though restricted by the fact of imprisonment and that they are entitled to invoke Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

7. It has been pointed out in State of Maharashtra v. Prabhakar Pandurang Sanzgiri, : 1966CriLJ311 that the conditions in the Bombay Conditions of Detention Order, regulating the restrictions on the personal liberty of a detenu are not privileges conferred on him but are conditions subject to which his liberty can be restricted. We may also usefully refer to the following observations of the Supreme Court in Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration : 1978CriLJ1741 . In paragraph 31 of the report it is observed :

'31. Haskot : 1978CriLJ1678 applied the rule in Maneka Gandhi : [1978]2SCR621 to a prison setting and held that 'one component of fair procedure is natural justice'. Thus, it is now clear law that a prisoner wears the armour of basic freedom even behind bars and that on breach thereof by lawless officials the law will respond to his distress signals through writ aid. The Indian human has a constant companion, the Court, armed with the Constitution. The weapon is 'habeas', the power is part III and the projectile is Batra : 1978CriLJ1741 .

No iron curtain can be drawn between the prisoner and the Constitution.

It is therefore the Court's concern, implicit in the power to deprive the sentence of his personal liberty, to ensure that no more and no less than is warranted by the sentence happens. If the prisoner breaks down because of mental torture, psychic pressure or physical infliction beyond the licit limits of lawful imprisonment the Prison Administration shall be liable for the excess. On the contrary, if an influential convict is able to buy advantages and liberties to avoid or water down the deprivation implied in the sentence the Prison Establishment will be called to order for such adulteration or dilution of court sentences by executive palliation, if unwarranted by law. One of us, in Batra : 1978CriLJ1741 observed :

Suffice it to say that, so long as Judges are invigilators and enforcers of Constitutionality and performance auditors of legality and convicts serve terms in that grim microcosm called prison by the mandate of the Court a continuing institutional responsibility vests in the system to monitor in the incarceratory process and prevent security 'excesses'. Jailors are bound by the rule of law and cannot inflict supplementary sentence under disguises or defeat the primary purposes of imprisonment.

42. Rights jurisprudence is important but becomes an abstraction in the absence of remedial jurisprudence. Law is not an omnipotence in the sky but a loaded gun which, when triggered by trained men with ballistic skill, strikes the offending bull's eye. We have made it clear that no prisoner can be personally subjected to deprivations not necessitated by the fact of incarceration and the sentence of Court. All other freedoms belong to him : to read and write, to exercise and recreation, to meditation and chant, to creature comforts like protection from extreme cold and heat, to freedom from indignities like compulsory nudity, forced sodomy and other unbearable vulgarity, to movement within the prison campus subject to requirements of discipline and security, to the minimal joys of self expression, to acquire skills and techniques and all other fundamental rights tailored to the limitations of imprisonment'.

8. It is thus well settled that convicts do not wholly shed their fundamental rights, though their liberty is in the very nature of things circumscribed by the very fact of their conviction. The consequent responsibilities of prison administrators have to be borne in mind. These responsibilities broadly stated are : (i) maintenance of internal order and discipline, (ii) securing the institutions against unauthorised access or escape and (iii) rehabilitation of prisoners. The maintenance of penal institutions is an essential part of the Government's task in preserving social order through enforcement of criminal law and the governmental interests are the preservation of internal order and discipline, the maintenance of institutional security against escape or unauthorised entry and above all the rehabilitation of prisoners as indicated above. As a matter of fact the modern concept of criminology calls for greater attention to the reformation of a prisoner. Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration : 1978CriLJ1741 and Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration : 1978CriLJ1741 amongst others are landmark decisions emphasising the reformative aspect of the prison administration.

9. We will first take up for consideration the challenge to the validity of Rules 20 and 17(ix) of the Maharashtra Prisons (Facilities to Prisoners) Rules 1962 (hereinafter referred to as the 'said Rules'). Rule 20 of the said Rules provides as follows :

'20. A Prisoner who is entitled to write a letter and who desires to do so, may correspond on personal and private matters, but he shall not include any matter likely to become the subject of political propaganda or any strictures on the administration of the prison, or any reference to other persons confined in the prison who have their own opportunities for communication with their families'.

Rule 17(ix) provides as under :

'17(ix) Prisoners shall not be allowed to correspond with inmates of other prisons. If, however, a prisoner has got his near relative in another prison, he may be permitted to send welfare letters only'.

10. It was urged by Miss Jaising that the restrictions imposed on the prisoners under the said Rules are wholly unwarranted and are violative of the prisoner's right of freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and also violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as being discriminatory. The said Rules must be read in the light of the provisions of Rule 23 of the said Rules. Under the said Rule 23 the Superintendent of Jail is entitled to withhold for reasons to be recorded in Form LXI any incoming or outgoing letter of a prisoner which seems to him to be improper or objectionable or he may erase any improper or objectionable passages in such letters. As far as Rule 17(ix) is concerned, it is curious that a prisoner is permitted to send welfare letters to his near relatives in other prison but, he is not permitted to send welfare letters to prisoners in other prisons, who are not related to him. We fail to see any rational basis for such discrimination between prisoners in the matter of sending welfare letters to prisoners lodged in other prisons depending on whether they are related to the prisoner or not. The Rule is on the face of it discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and must, therefore, be struck down. We hold that the prisoner is entitled to send welfare letters to prisoners in the other prisons whether such prisoners are his relatives or not.

11. Rule 20 incorporates three prohibitions. Firstly, the prisoner is prohibited from including in his letter any matter which is likely to be the subject of political propoganda. Secondly, he is also prohibited from including in his letter any matter containing strictures on the administration of prison and lastly, he is also prohibited from including in his letter any reference to other prisoners confined in the prison who have their own opportunity for communication with their families. While construing the said provisions, we have to bear in mind the provisions of Rules 23 which give wide powers to the prison authorities to withhold the letters containing objectionable matter and are entitled to erase such passages in the letter. It is obvious that Rule 20 contains blanket restrictions on the rights of the prisoner which he otherwise has. It is well settled that the prisoner does not lose his rights guaranteed under the Constitution, except to the extent necessitated by reason of his incarceration and the sentence imposed. The restrictions imposed on the prisoner to be valid must have relevance either to the maintenance of internal order and discipline in the precincts of the Jail or prevention of escape of the prisoner or prevention of transmission of coded message or messages which have the potentiality or tendency to give rise to disturbance of public order or inspiring commission of any illegal activity or offence or reasons of a like nature. Barring such restrictions we see no reason why the prisoner should be prevented from writing letters containing matters referred to in Rule 20. The most important object of prison administration, viz. that of reformation of the prisoners, also is paramount. The very fact that discriminatory, unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions are imposed on the prisoner is by itself likely to retard the process of reformation of the prisoners. Validity of Rule 20 will also have to be judged from this angle as well.

12. It is clear that Rule 20 prevents a most innocent reference about the co-prisoner lodged in the same jail. Such restrictions obviously have no nexus with the constraints and responsibility of the prison Administration. Mr. More, the learned Public Prosecutor, contended that the Rule is intended to take care of various possibilities such as the possibility of the prisoner passing on information about the date and time of release of the co-prisoner to his adversaries which would facilitate them to plan for taking revenge on the co-prisoner as soon as he comes out of jail on his release, or the prisoner spreading false information about the co-prisoner with the intention of creating panic amongst his friends and relatives and so on. We do not think that a prisoner can be deprived of his Constitutional rights merely on such imaginary apprehensions and on the basis of some harm being caused to co-prisoner. The prison Administration is not powerless to prevent such possible abuse. In our view, rule 23 is wide enough and provides sufficient safeguards even in such cases of abuse prohibition in relation to the reference to other prisoners confined in the same jail is clearly unjust, arbitrary and unreasonable and is liable to be struck down as violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

12A. Then the prisoner is prohibited from writing any material in his letter which would amount to strictures on the administration of the prison. We fail to see why the prisoner should not give vent to his grievances against the prison administration to the outside world through his letter. It is to be noted that the prisoner is not prevented from making these grievances in the interviews which are permitted under the Rules. He is also permitted to make complaints to various authorities and is entitled to approach the Court by way of Writ Petition. It is quite possible that in a given situation he may not be in a position to complain about the administration directly to the prison authorities or even to the other authorities, such as District Judge who visits the prison, but he may desire his near relatives or friends to raise the issue before the appropriate Court in order to get his grievances redressed. We see no rational basis for this blanket prohibition. The only ground urged by Mr. More in support of this prohibition is that the strictures against the prison administration through letters would affect or is likely to affect internal discipline. We see no force in this argument, when the prisoner has freedom to make a grievance against the prison Administration through other means even to outside world.

13. Similarly, as regards the political propaganda referred to in Rule 20, it is not always the case that every political propaganda is detrimental to the welfare of the society merely because it finds a place in a letter sent through the jail. The wording of the Rule puts a blanket ban on a prisoner to express any views, however, innocent they may be or, however, beneficial to the society they may be. By reason of the conviction and being lodged in jail, the prisoner does not lose his political right or rights to express views on political matters, so long as such views propagated by the prisoner through letters do not have the potency of inciting violence or is likely to adversely affect maintenance of law and order or public order. Such cases of possible abuse can be and in fact have been taken care of by Rule 23. In our view, therefore, the prohibition on any matter likely to become the subject of political propaganda is clearly unwarranted, unjust and unreasonable and must be struck down as violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Keeping in view the decision of Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi's case (supra) as also the decisions in Sunil Batra's cases (supra), the Rule which puts blanket ban on the prisoner writing in his letters material mentioned in the said Rule is also violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

14. It was urged by Miss. Jaising that even Rule 23 of the said Rules is bad as being unreasonable since it conferred unbridled and unguided powers in the prison Administration to censor a particular matter contained in the letter. She submitted that Rule 23 is left to the arbitrary discretion of the prison authorities to decide as to what is improper and objectionable matter written by the prisoner. We do not think that this contention is valid since we find that the Rule clearly provides that whenever the Superintendent decides to withhold any objectionable matter in the letter he is bound to record reasons for such erasures. In the event of any mala fide or improper exercise of powers by the Superintendent under this Rule, the prisoner shall not be without a remedy, particularly having regard to the fact that the Superintendent is enjoined to record reasons for his action. In the circumstances, such action of the Superintendent would be successfully challenged under Article 226 of the Constitution, apart from the fact that the prisoner can complain about such conduct on the part of the Superintendent or Jail administration to the District Judge or other Authorities who can take appropriate action to redress the grievance of the prisoner.

15. In the petition a ground is taken that the double lock-up in Dhule Jail does not conform to the minimum standards of cell, which can be used for separate confinement inasmuch as it does not enable the prisoners in the double lock-up to communicate with those outside and therefore it ought to be discontinued forthwith. In his affidavit Shri Dawane, Superintendent of Dhule District Prison, has stated that the practice of use of cells with double lock pattern is not in existence in Dhule Jail at all. He, however, admitted that a block of about two cells surrounded by Court-yard wall with an entrance door existed to accommodate prisoners sentenced to death. However, the door has been removed and, therefore, double lock pattern of the cells, as alleged by the prisoner, does not exist in Dhule Jail. In the circumstances the grievance made in the petition does not seem to be correct and no directions in that behalf are called for. We may mention that Miss Jaising did not dispute that under the Rules a punishment of separate confinement of a prisoner for breach of prison Rules is permissible. We are informed that only such prisoners are kept in the said cells.

16. It was then contended by Miss Jaising that under the Maharashtra Prisons (Punishment) Rules 1963, there is no provision for giving a hearing or opportunity to defend before any punishment is inflicted by the prison authority. She submitted that the Rules of natural justice must be complied with by the prison authorities before imposing any punishment on the prisoner. In this connection Mr. More drew our attention to the fact that there is a non-statutory rule incorporated in the Maharashtra Prison Manual, 1979, which is followed by the prison authorities in the matter of punishment. This non-statutory Rule 1(i) provides as under :

'1(i) No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. The competent authority shall conduct an inquiry into the case. No prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with the terms of law or regulation.'

It would, therefore, be clear that though there is no specific provision in the statutory rules of 1963 providing for an opportunity being given to the prisoner, the abovementioned procedure prescribed by the non-statutory rules is being followed and it is not disputed by Mr. More that the said non-statutory rules are binding on the prison authorities. We, however, think that it is desirable that the said non-statutory rules should be incorporated in the statutory rules in order to make the position clear. Mr. More assured that the Government would take appropriate steps to incorporate the above provision in the statutory rules. Our attention is also invited to the provisions of the Bombay Jail Accounts Manual 1956, under which a Punishment Register is required to be maintained. In this Punishment Register it is provided that in the case of every serious offence the names of the witnesses, the substance of the evidence of the witnesses, the defence of the prisoner and the Superintendent's findings with reasons shall be recorded in the remarks column by the Superintendent himself. If the Superintendent considers it essential, statements of all concerned should also be taken and kept on record. These safeguards would meet the requirements of principles of natural justice and, therefore, we do not think that any direction in this regard is necessary.

16A. It was then urged by Miss. Jaising that in the case of punishment some appeal procedure for challenging the order of punishment must be provided for. In this connection Mr. More drew out attention to the Order No. PJO/1672/18460/II (VI) issued by the Inspector General of Prisons, Maharashtra State, and published in the Maharashtra Government Gazette dated June 8, 1978, Clause 5 of the said order provides for such procedure which runs as under :

'5(a) The Inspector General of Prisons on representation or suo motu may call for the papers, may either confirm, annul, enhance reduce or modify the nature of punishment awarded to a prisoner by the Superintendent/Deputy Inspector General.

(b) The State Government may suo motu or otherwise set aside any order of punishment passed by a subordinate authority or confirm, enhance, reduce or modify the nature of punishment awarded to a prisoner'.

We consider these provisions to be fair and adequate.

17. It was then urged by Miss. Jaising that there is no effective procedure for redressing grievances of the prisoner and whatever meagre procedure is in existence does not conform to the directions given by the Supreme Court in the second Sunil Batra's case : 1978CriLJ1741 . In paragraph 11 of his affidavit Shri Siddique, Inspector General of Prisons, has described the present procedure for redressing the grievances of the prisoner. Mr. More fairly stated that the present procedure is inadequate in view of what is laid down in Sunil Batra's case. In that case various directions were given by the Supreme Court with a view to bring about reforms in the jail administration. These directions are to be found in paragraph 79 of the report by Krishna Iyer, J. Directions 3 to 5 are relevant so far as grievance procedure is concerned. These directions are :

'3. Lawyers nominated by the District Magistrate, Sessions Judge, High Court and Supreme Court will be given all facilities for interviews, visits and confidential communications with prisoners subject to discipline and security considerations. This has roots in the visitorial and supervisory judicial role. The lawyers so designated shall be bound to make periodical visits and record and report to the concerned Court results which have relevance to legal grievances.

4. Within the next three months, Grievances Deposit Boxes shall be maintained by or under the orders of the District Magistrate and the Sessions Judge which will be opened as frequently as is deemed fit and suitable action taken on complaints made. Access to such boxes shall be accorded to all prisoners.

5. District Magistrates and Sessions Judges shall, personally or through surrogates, visit prisons in their jurisdiction and afford effective opportunities for ventilating legal grievances, shall make expeditious enquiries there into and take suitable remedial action. In appropriate cases reports shall be made to the High Court for the latter to initiate, if found necessary, habeas action'.

Mr. More submitted a draft about the manner in which the Government would be willing to implement these directions of the Supreme Court. Miss Jaising also stated that the suggestions, if incorporated in the draft, would meet with the requirements of the directions given by the Supreme Court. As suggested in the draft, we direct that the Respondents should implement the following procedure :

1. Grievance Deposit Box.

In addition to complaint boxes which are presently kept in different Cells in the prison, a sealed Grievance Deposit Box shall be kept at a conspicuous place inside the prison under lock and key. The key of the said Box shall remain exclusively with the District Judge. Access to the complaint Box shall be accorded to the prisoners. The said Box shall be opened by the Sessions Judge within whose jurisdiction the prison falls, at regular intervals. In case of Jails which are rendered impracticable for the Sessions Judge, to visit, Additional District Judge or a Senior-most Assistant Judge, nominated by the Sessions Judge should perform the aforesaid tasks. A detailed record of the complaints, grievances, shall be maintained by the concerned Sessions Judge who will also investigate into the complaints, and if found necessary and expedient shall take appropriate action. The record of the complaints shall also contain the particulars of the action taken.

2. Complaint Register.

The District and Sessions Judge shall maintain a complaint Register in prison office in such manner as may be directed by him in respect of the complaints found in the grievance Deposit Box. He shall also record the appropriate action taken in respect of the said complaints.

3. Visits by District & Sessions Judge/District Magistrate.

The District Magistrate and the Sessions Judge shall personally visit prisons in their jurisdiction and offer effective opportunities for ventilating the legal grievances of the prisoners and shall make expeditious enquiries, and take suitable remedial action. They shall, also ascertain the conditions prevailing in the prison, and ascertain whether the prisoners are provided with all the necessary facilities as set out in the Maharashtra (Facilities to Prisoners) Rules 1962. In the appropriate case, report shall be made to the High Court by a letter to initiate, if necessary, habeas action.

4. Visit by Lawyers :

The Sessions Judge shall nominate lawyers to make separate visits to the prison within his jurisdiction. The lawyers so appointed in their visit shall be afforded by the prison administration facilities and opportunities to inspect the prison premises and the record relating to complaints from the prisoners and to interview and receive confidential communications from the inmates of the prison subject to disciplinary and security conditions. The Lawyers so nominated shall carry out periodical visits and report to the concerned Court results which have relevance to legal grievances.

7. The prisoner can send a letter or address a petition containing grievances regarding prison administration, to the following authorities :

1) Regional Deputy Inspector General of Prisons.

2) The Inspector General of Prisons, Pune.

3) The Secretary, Home Department, Bombay

4) The Home Minister/Chief Minister, Mantralaya, Bombay

5) The District Judge, High Court Judge, or Supreme Court Judge.

6) Lawyers nominated by the District Judge, as prison visitors.

7) Lokpal, Lokayukta.

8) Secretary, District Legal aid Committee/Secretary State Legal Aid Committee.

All these letters of petitions, shall be forwarded to appropriate authorities through proper channel, viz., through the Superintendent of respective prison. Such communication shall not be included in the scale prescribed in sub-Rule (iii) of Rule 17 of Maharashtra Prison (Facilities to Prisoners) Rules 1962'.

We also direct that the abovementioned directions be communicated to the District and Sessions Judge and the District Magistrate of each District in the State for their information and necessary action.

17A. In the result rules 20 and 17(ix) of the said Rules are struck down as violative of Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. As regards grievance procedure directions are given as above. Rule made absolute accordingly.

18. Criminal Application No. 1108 of 1983. No orders are necessary in view of the fact that the prisoner has been already transferred and we are informed that after completing the sentence he has already been released.

19. Order accordingly.


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