8 July 2023 5:30 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that civil prisoners are eligible for grant of ordinary remission under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018. “…a plain reading of the aforesaid Rules would show that while providing eligibility for remission in Rule 1175, the expression used is “convicted prisoner”. The expression is inclusive and does not distinguish between a convicted “civil prisoner”...
The Delhi High Court has observed that civil prisoners are eligible for grant of ordinary remission under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.
“…a plain reading of the aforesaid Rules would show that while providing eligibility for remission in Rule 1175, the expression used is “convicted prisoner”. The expression is inclusive and does not distinguish between a convicted “civil prisoner” and a “criminal prisoner”,” Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri observed.
Rule 1175 provides for the eligibility of convicted prisoners for ordinary remission.
The court said that even though Chapter XXXIII of the Rules, which is applicable for civil prisoners, does not have a separate provision for remission, the same by itself would not mean that Rule 1175 becomes inapplicable to civil prisoners.
“Also, there is no specific exclusion of the civil prisoners in Rule 1176 (non-eligibility of prisoners for ordinary remission) either. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the aforementioned definition and rule are inclusive of both kind of prisoners,” the court said.
The court was hearing an application moved by a contemnor praying that his case be considered for grant of remission in accordance with Delhi Prison Rules, 2018.
On May 24, 2019, the court had found the contemnor guilty of contempt of court for violating judicial orders as well as the undertaking given before the Arbitrator. As the contemnor failed to deposit the amount of Rs. 5.05 crores, he was directed to surrender and undergo three months civil imprisonment. He surrendered on April 10 and was in civil prison since then.
During the pendency of the application, a representation made by the contemnor before the Jail Authorities for grant of remission was rejected on July 1.
The State took a stand that the contemnor, being a civil prisoner, was not entitled for any remission as the punishment awarded to him was not a substantive sentence. It was contended that the Rules do not provide for any remission under the heading of “Civil Prison” in Chapter XXXIII.
Analyzing the Rules in question, Justice Ohri said, “In the present case, the Court vide order dated 24.05.2019 directed that on the applicant failing to deposit the amount of Rs.5.05 crores, he would undergo civil imprisonment for three months. It is apparent that while passing the aforesaid order, the Court had exercised its power under Section 12 (3) of the Act and the applicant’s imprisonment is nothing but detention in civil prison for three months.”
The court thus allowed the application and directed the Jail Superintendent to grant the benefit of remission to the contemnor as per the Delhi Prison Rules.
“Personal liberty is one of the cherished objects of Indian constitution and deprivation of the same can only be in accordance with law and in conformity with the provision thereof, as stipulated in Article 21 of the Constitution. It is well established that a procedure established by law cannot be arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable,” the court said.
Case Title: INOX AIR PRODUCTS PRIVATE LIMITED v. MR. ARUN RATHI
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 565
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