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Mathu Ram and anr. Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
AppellantMathu Ram and anr.
RespondentState of Himachal Pradesh and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....manual and in the case of fetters other than bar-fetters or link fetters, shall be imposed on any prisoner. para 429 specifies the prisoners in respect of whom imposition of fetters is prohibited. the next relevant provision is found in paragraph 435 of the manual. this paragraph provides that fetters imposed for security reasons shall be removed by the superintendent as soon as he is of the opinion that the same can be done with safety.9. section 56 of the prisons act thus does empower the superintendent of the jail to place a prisoner under fetters when he considers it necessary to do so for the safe custody of the concerned prisoner. the rules framed under the prisons act as found in the manual ensure that this power is not misused. they also provide for the guidelines for the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T.R. Handa, J.

1. The District and Sessions Judge, Selan and Sirmur districts conducted the monthly inspection of the Model Central Jail, Nahan on 5-4-1983. He submitted a copy of his inspection note to this Court for its perusal and record. Para No. 5 of the inspection note which is relevant for the purposes of the present proceedings reads :-

5. Mathu Ram alias Harbans Singh & Sita Ram:Both the convicts are placed under fetters. The Superintendent of Jail to explain under what circumstances the convicts have been placed under fetters. Both complain of discrimination by stating that Ishwari Prasad convict, who also ran away, has not been placed under fetters, The Assistant Superintendent of Jail has been directed to open the fetters of S/Shri Mathu Ram and Sita Ram convicts immediately with the direction to report compliance.

The Assistant Superintendent of Jail, it may be observed, obeyed the order of the District & Sessions Judge forthwith and in his very presence.

2. It appears that the Registrar of this Court called for comments of the Inspector General of Prisons with respect to the inspection note and the comments of the Inspector General of Prisons with respect to para 5 are as follows:-

Para 5.- Under Section 56 of Prisons Act, 1894 and the same incorporated in para 425 of the Punjab Jail, Manual Supdt. Jail is authorised to confine such prisoners in irons (fetters) if he considers it necessary for the safe custody of the prisoners and insecure conditions of the jail building. Naturally it is for the officer-in-charge at the spot to determine which prisoner is to be fettered. It is the discretion of the Superintendent Jail. In this case the learned Judge straightway directed the jail authorities for the removal of the fetters on the spot. In such administrative matters if the discretion by the Superintendent Jail was not properly used the higher authorities (Departmental) can review the orders. It is the responsibility of the Superintendent Jail to enforce the discipline amongst the criminals/convicts/undertrials who are dangerous and these powers given to him under law need to be upheld.

3. After the matter was placed before the then Hon'ble the Chief Justice by the Registrar of this Court, the learned Chief Justice passed the following order:-

Prepare copies of the relevant orders of the Sessions Judge and I.G. (Prisons) and Supdt. Jail and put up on judicial side as Cr. R.

4. This is how this case came to be registered as Criminal Revision.

5. The short question involved in this case pertains to the validity or otherwise of the order of the Sessions Judge directing the Assistant Superintendent Jail to remove the fetters placed on the convicts under the order of the Superintendent Jail.

6. Now it may not be disputed that the Superintendent being in charge of the jail is responsible for control over and safe custody of the prisoners. For an effective discharge of such responsibility, he is empowered in terms of Section 56 of the Prisons Act to confine a prisoner in irons. Of course this power which is a discretionary one is to be exercised only when the Superintendent is of the view whether with reference to the state of the prison or the character of the prisoner, that it is necessary to confine the prisoner in iron. This discretion is further to be exercised subject to such rules or instructions as may be laid down by the Inspector General of Prisons with the sanction of the State Government.

7. The relevant rules and guidelines are found in the Manual for the Superintendence and Management of Jails in the Punjab as applicable to this State. Para 399 of the Manual deals with the custody of dangerous prisoners. Sub-para (3) of this para enjoins that special precautions should be taken for the safe custody of dangerous prisoners, both under-trials and convicts. Fettering of such prisoners for special reasons to be recorded is one of the precautions suggested in this connection.

8. The next relevant rule is found in para 425 of the Manual which reads:-

425. Whenever the Superintendent considers it necessary (with reference either to the state of the prison or the character of the prisoners) for the safe custody of any prisoners that they should be confined in irons, he may, subject to such rules and instructions as may be laid down by the Inspector-General with the sanction of the Local Government, so confine them.

Para 428 then provides that no irons of any kind other than those prescribed in paragraphs 614 and 617 of the Manual and in the case of fetters other than bar-fetters or link fetters, shall be imposed on any prisoner. Para 429 specifies the prisoners in respect of whom imposition of fetters is prohibited. The next relevant provision is found in paragraph 435 of the Manual. This paragraph provides that fetters imposed for security reasons shall be removed by the Superintendent as soon as he is of the opinion that the same can be done with safety.

9. Section 56 of the Prisons Act thus does empower the Superintendent of the Jail to place a prisoner under fetters when he considers it necessary to do so for the safe custody of the concerned prisoner. The rules framed under the Prisons Act as found in the Manual ensure that this power is not misused. They also provide for the guidelines for the exercise of this power as also lay down as to when the fetters imposed under Section 56 are to be removed and by whom. Such power is to be exercised subject to the overall control of the Inspector-General of Prisons who is supposed to act as soon as abuse of such power is brought to his notice.

10. The Sessions Judge is only an ex-officio visitor of the jail in terms of para 47 of the Manual. In his capacity of a visitor he does enjoy the power to call for and inspect any book or other record in the jail, to see any prisoner and to put any questions to him within hearing or out of the hearing of any jail officer and to record his remarks in the visitors' book which should be forwarded to the Inspector-General for necessary action. The Sessions Judge in his capacity of a visitor can also inspect the various barracks, cells, wards, workshed and other buildings of the jail including the kitchen and he cooked food therein, ascertain whether considerations of health, cleanliness and security are attended to, whether proper management and discipline are maintained in every respect, and whether any prisoner is illegally detained or is detained for an undue length of time while, awaiting trial. He can also hear and attend to all representations and petitions made, by or on behalf of prisoners and if deemed advisable to forward the same to the State Government. He certainly does not enjoy any power of superintendence or control over the working of the Superintendent, Jail so as to issue any orders with regard to the exercise of his powers by the Superintendent, Jail. Such jurisdiction vests only in the Inspector-General of Prisons or the State Government. In case the Sessions Judge during the course of his visit to the jail feels that any prisoner has been put under fetters without sufficient cause, he may bring this fact to the notice of the Inspector-General of Prisons or the State Government who are expected to take necessary action in the matter.

11. There is no provision in the Prisons Act or the Rules framed thereunder as found in the Manual or in any other law which empowers the Sessions Judge to pass orders directing removal of fetters placed on a prisoner under the orders of the Superintendent who, as already observed, enjoys statutory discretion to confine a prisoner in fetters if considered necessary for his safe custody. The order of the Sessions Judge directing removal of the fetters placed on the convicts under the order of the Superintendent Jail is, therefore, obviously without jurisdiction and is accordingly quashed.


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