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Nirmal Chand JaIn Vs. the District Magistrate, Jabalpur and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMisc. Petn. No. 681 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976MP95
ActsMaintenance of Iternal Security Order, 1971- Sections 5; Madhya Pradesh Detention Order, 1971 - Rules 3, 4, 4(3) and 430
AppellantNirmal Chand Jain
RespondentThe District Magistrate, Jabalpur and anr.
Appellant AdvocateParty in person
Respondent AdvocateM.V. Tamaskar, Govt. Adv.
Cases ReferredRanbir Singh v. State of Punjab
Excerpt:
- - his allegation is that these detenus though classified as class 'a' prisoners, were being denied reasonable living comforts and were being kept in a barrack in deplorable condition inasmuch as (i) the place was unhygienic, insanitary and unsafe, being infested with mosquitoes and snakes, and (ii) the authorities do not provide them with beds or mosquito-nets. in their return, the respondents state that the barrack in which the detenus are kept is absolutely sanitary and hygienic, spacious, well-ven-tilated and airy, and is cleaned every day. the life in barracks is quite safe and the same barracks are two feet above the ground. the barracks are well-lighted throughout the night. it appears that the facilities available there are no better and, therefore, the grievances of the..........as afforded to prisoners of class 'a', however, admitted before us that on his classification as a class detenu, the petitioner was being treated as a class 'a' prisoner. he is, therefore, entitled to be given the same facilities and amenities, and treated in the same manner, as prisoners placed in class 'a'.12. that brings us to the grievances of the petitioner. the provisions of rules 430 and 431 of the jail manual are applicable to him. rule 430 reads :--'430. definition.--classes 'a' and 'b' are reserved for prisoners of superior social status, i. e., for those whose habit or position make confinement in jail under ordinary conditions a very much severer form of punishment than it is for those less educated or of coarser habit. the social status required for admission to class 'a'.....
Judgment:

Sen, J.

1. By this petition -under Article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner Shri Nirmal Chand Jain, who has been detained by an order of the District Magistrate, Jabalpur, dated 26-6-1975 under Section 3(1)(a)(ii) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971, makes a grievance that though he was classified as a Class I detenu, he was being deprived of the facilities to which he was entitled, i.e., the facilities and amenities provided to prisoners placed in Class 'A' under the Jail Manual and, accordingly, seeks appropriate writ or direction against the District Magistrate and Superintendent, Central Jail, Jabalpur.

2. The allegations made by the petitioner, briefly are that he along withseveral doctors, advocates and other prominent citizens of Jabalpur were being detained at the Central Jail, Jabalpur. His allegation is that these detenus though classified as Class 'A' prisoners, were being denied reasonable living comforts and were being kept in a barrack in deplorable condition inasmuch as (i) the place was unhygienic, insanitary and unsafe, being infested with mosquitoes and snakes, and (ii) the authorities do not provide them with beds or mosquito-nets. He states that it is extremely hot inside and it is impossible to sleep or have relaxation, and even if the authorities permitted it sleeping outside would involve risk to life. Though the detenus, the petitioner alleges, made several representations in the matter their grievance have not been redressed,

3. These allegations of his have been refuted by the respondents on a counter-affidavit of the Superintendent, Central Jail, Jabalpur. In their return, the respondents state that the barrack in which the detenus are kept is absolutely sanitary and hygienic, spacious, well-ven-tilated and airy, and is cleaned every day. It is also said that gamaxine is spread twice a week, and the authorities have purchased liquid Novan for spraying, in the barrack in order that mosquitoes and flies are considerably eliminated. They go on to say that :--

'It is denied that there is any threat of snakes entering the barracks. It may be that due to rainy season, a snake might have been spotted in open i.e. the compound. The life in barracks is quite safe and the same barracks are two feet above the ground. The barracks are well-lighted throughout the night.'

The respondents further assert that detenus who are classified ,as Class I by the District Magistrate are awarded Class 'B'. Nevertheless, 16 out of 240 detenus have been classified as Class 'A' prisoners 'by the District Magistrate and given all the facilities provided under the Rules,

4. Before the petition came up tor hearing, the detenu under the orders of the State Government under Section 5 (b) of the Act was transferred to the District Jail, Tikamgarh. It appears that the facilities available there are no better and, therefore, the grievances of the detenu still remain the same. Ordinarily, we would have directed him to implead the District Magistrate, Tikamgarh and the Superintendent, District Jail, Tikamgarh.This being a petition by a person under detention, they are impleaded as respondents Nos. 3 and 4 so that the petition does not become infructuous.

5. We have heard the detenu, Shri Nirmal Chand Jain, in person. It is accepted before us that he is being treated as a Class 'A' prisoner. The detenu contends that under Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Detention Order, 1971, the authorities were duty bound to afford him certain reasonable facilities and amenities to which Class 'A' prisoners were entitled under the Jail Manual which are being denied to him. He raised before us his grievances on four counts-- (i) the diet was inadequate, (ii) he is not provided with an electric fan which is making .his life miserable in this hot and sultry weather, (iii) he is not given a mosquito-net and the place is infested with mosquitoes endangering his life, and. (iv) there is no provision for games. He lays emphasis on the word 'ordinarily' in Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the said Order, and contends that the word, in the context, must mean 'as far as may be'. In other words, his contention is that the authorities are bound to keep the detenus in reasonable comfort.

6. In reply, the learned Government Advocate contends that Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the said Order equates all detenus of Class I with prisoners placed in Class 'B' and detenus of Class II with prisoners placed in Class 'C' or ordinary class. That, we are afraid, is not a proper construction of Sub-rule (3) as it overlooks 'the superior class' envisaged therein.

7. Section 5 (a) of the Act confers power on the State Government to regulate the place and conditions of detention, and it reads :--

'5. Power to regulate place and conditions of detention :-- Every person in respect of whom a detention order has been made shall be liable--

(a) to be detained in such place and under such conditions, including conditions as to maintenance, discipline and punishment for breaches of discipline, as the appropriate Government may, by general or special orders, specify.'

The Madhya Pradesh Detention Order, 1971, was framed by the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 5 (a) of the Act, and constitutes a self-contained code regulating the place and conditions of detention of thedetenus, who are not governed by the Prisons Act, 1894,

8. Rule 3 of the Madhya Pradesh Detention Order, 1971, reads :

'3. Application of general rules. The rules for the time being in force applicable to other prisoners confined in a place shall apply to detenus also, except to the extent to which they are modified by this Order.'

The classification of the detenus has to be made into two categories, Class I and Class II, according to the state of their health and their education, status and mode of living before detention. Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the Order runs thus :

'Subject to the provisions of this Order, detenus of Class I and Class II shall ordinarily be treated in the same manner as laid down in the Jail Manual, for the time being in force, for prisoners placed in Class B or superior class and class C or ordinary class, respectively.'

9. The word 'ordinarily' may have different shades of meaning. Thus in Kailash Chandra v. The Union of India (AIR 1961 SC 1346), their Lordships while interpreting the words 'should ordinarily be retained' in Rule 2046 (2) (a) of the Railway Establishment Code, held that the word 'ordinarily' means 'in the majority of cases but not invariably'. That particular construction left a discretion to the appropriate authority, and it was not bound to retain the servant after he attains the age of 55 even if he continues to be efficient.

10. It all depends upon the context as to what the meaning of a word should be. The word 'ordinarily' in Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the Order must in the context in which it appears mean 'without exception, generally'. That being so, the authorities are bound to provide the same facilities and amenities to detenus of class I in the same manner as laid down in the Jail Manual, for the time being in force, for prisoners placed in class 'B' or superior class. The words 'superior class' cannot mean anything than class 'A'.

11. If the meaning given by their Lordships of the Supreme Court to the word 'ordinarily' in Kailash Chandra v. The Union of India, (AIR 1961 SC 1346) (supra), is adopted, in the construction of Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 of the Order, the result would be the same. The authorities in that event, would have a discretion in the matter. That discretion must, however, be exercised in favour of the detenus. Inthe Large majority of cases, the detenus classified as class I will have to be given the facilities available to prisoners placed in class 'B' in the Jail Manual, but not invariably. There may still be some detenus who by reason of their social status or their education, will have to be provided the facilities, in the same manner, as afforded to prisoners of class 'A', however, admitted before us that on his classification as A Class detenu, the petitioner was being treated as a class 'A' prisoner. He is, therefore, entitled to be given the same facilities and amenities, and treated in the same manner, as prisoners placed in class 'A'.

12. That brings us to the grievances of the petitioner. The provisions of Rules 430 and 431 of the Jail Manual are applicable to him. Rule 430 reads :--

'430. Definition.--Classes 'A' and 'B' are reserved for prisoners of superior social status, i. e., for those whose habit or position make confinement in jail under ordinary conditions a very much severer form of punishment than it is for those less educated or of coarser habit. The social status required for admission to class 'A' will be considerably higher than that required for class 'B'.' The opening words of Rule 431 are :--

'431. Rules relating to 'A' and 'B' class prisoners.-- The following rules relate to 'B' class prisoners and are also applicable to 'A' class prisoners unless otherwise stated.'

Sub-rules (1) to (16) relate to different facilities and amenities available to these prisoners.

13. Sub-rule (3) (a) relates to the diet of labouring male convicts. Under Clause (c) thereof, non-labouring male and female prisoners of 'A' and 'B' classes have to be given the diet mentioned in Clause (a) except that the quantities of wheat flour, loaf bread, rice, meat, ghee, butter, gur and sugar shall be two thirds of the quantities authorised. The diet provided in Clause (a) is for convicts engaged in manual labour, perhaps the anxiety is to provide them with food that has a value of 3,000 calories. The same equation cannot, it is urged equally apply to detenus classified ,as class I and placed in class 'A'. It is further urged that the quantity provided for i.e., 2/3rds of the normal ration is wholly inadequate to meet their requirements.

14. Our attention was drawn to the quantities of various articles of food specified in Clause (a), and it is said thattwo-thirds of the quantities so provided are inadequate. It is pointed out that there is provision for a cup of tea once a day in the morning; but there is no provision for one in the afternoon. It is also pointed out that persons of a mixed diet i.e., those who eat chapatis with rice, get only two-thirds 290 grams of flour wheat and 235 grams of rice. This works out to about 200 grams of flour wheat and 150 grams of rice. Further, it is said that Dal is no substitute for meat or eggs in case of vegetarians, and their diet should be supplemented with milk. The last grievance is with respect to the quantity of fuel supplied to each detenu for purposes of cooking his meals. The quantity works out to 466 grams of firewood or coal for the day.

15. We refrain from entering into the controversy as to whether or not the quantities of food provided for specified in Clause (a) of Sub-rule (3) is inadequate. This is not a matter within our province. The diet provided for in Clause (a) must have been devised by experts. The question whether or not the detenu .should have two-thirds of the normal qualities of wheat flour, loaf bread, rice, meat, ghee, butter, gur and sugar .according to Clause (c), is a matter for the State Government to consider.

16. In this connection, it would suffice to recall the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Ranbir Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1962 SC 510), on the question of treatment of convicted prisoners, to the following effect :--

'The modern development of criminology has revolutionized the system of treatment of convicted prisoners. The old brutal treatment has given place to more humane one. The concept of vengeance by society and of deterrence is fast disappearing and is being replaced by the concept of correction and rehabilitation.'

The Supreme Court emphasised the need for a humanitarian approach. Under Rule 27 of the Order, the State Government has the power to relax any of the conditions or issue special orders in that behalf. The State Government, therefore, may consider afresh the grievances with regard to inadequacy of milk, tea etc. So also, the grievance that Dal is no substitute for meat or eggs, in case of vegetarian as well as the grievance as to the quantity of fuel supplied to each detenu for preparing his meals.

17. Ordinarily, a detenu placed in class I and treated as a class A prisoner,should have no grievance regarding clothing and bedding, diet and feeding utensils. Under Rule 8 of the Order, the detenu may wear his own clothes and use his own bedding, and his friends and relations may, if permitted to do so, by the Superintendent, send him extra clothes and bedding. It is only when he is unable to do so, that he would be governed by Rule 431 (2) and (3) of the Jail Manual. Under Rule 9, the detenu is allowed to bring his own feeding utensils. As regards diet, Rule 10 provides that the Superintendent may permit a detenu, if he so desires, to make arrangement for his own food.

18. It is, however, urged by the petitioner that this is not possible on his transfer to Tikamgarh, as he has no friends or relations there. He further contends that if he were to make his own arrangements, this is impracticable. That is because under Rule 11 of the Order, a detenu may not receive funds exceeding Rs. 30 per month in the case of A class I detenu, and Rs. 15 per month in the case of a class II detenu. There can foe no doubt that the amount provided for in Rule 11 is wholly inadequate to meet the requirements. The State Government may well consider whether the amount of fund permitted to a detenu under Rule 11 should be increased or not.

19. The detenu, Shri Nirmal Chand Jain, then complains that he is made to sleep on a berth of masonry at night. We are afraid we can do nothing in the matter. That is the provision made under Rule 431 (2). The detenu should, however, have no grievance on that account. Under the terms of that rule, he being a detenu of class I and treated as a class 'A' prisoner, is entitled to bring his own bed-stead and mattress of the approved size.

20. His next complaint is that he is not supplied with a mosquito-net or an electric fan, and this is making his life miserable. Under Rule 431 (2) he being a class 'A' prisoner, he is entitled to have a mosquito-net at his own cost. The grant of this facility is, however, made subject to the condition that it shall be allowed, if considered necessary by the Medical Officer. The learned Government Advocate assured before us that thia condition shall be relaxed. The Jail Authorities may also consider whether the detenu can be allowed to bring en electric fan at his own cost.

21. As regards games the detenu should have no grievance, under Rule 22of the Order the detenus are permitted to play Ring Tennis. The respondents in their return have stated that they are also provided with facility to play Volley Ball etc.

22. Subject to these observations, the petition fails and is dismissed.


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