Citing security issues, the Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking to avail the services of persons lodged in prisons across the country for dealing with the challenging times of the pandemic.
The Petitioner, a practicing Advocate in the state, R. Sreedhar, had suggested that services of convicted jail inmates should be utilized for providing security and other services relating to control of COVID 19 Pandemic outside the jails. He submitted that the same will also enable them to undertake social work and aid in their reformation, which is the very objective of the Prisons Act, 1894.
In face corollary security issues however, the division bench of Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana refused to pass such directions.
The High Court observed that releasing prisoners to render services outside the prison shall present them with an opportunity to elope from custody and pose a threat to the society. It also noted that the Petitioner had failed to establish the "requirement" for such a direction, especially when the state counsel had pointed out that 4,000 volunteers were already available to assist the Police personnel.
"Having heard the learned counsels, we are of the opinion that no such Mandamus can be issued to the State. We agree with the submission made by the learned Government Pleader that taking the services of the convicted people, who are presently in the jails, outside the jail premises may not only be fraught with risk, but there is no such requirement as such made out either by the petitioner-in-person or by the State as of now," the court held.
The bench further highlighted the stark difference between employing prisoners inside the jail premises for reformative purposes, as compared to employing them out, in the open, and it observed,
"The employment of the jail inmates within the jail premises in different spheres for their reform has already been taking place in terms of the Prisons Act and the rules made thereunder. Therefore, bringing them outside the jails to assist the police personnel and other volunteers for security and other related purposes in COVID-19 situation is not considered very necessary at this stage."
The petition was accordingly dismissed.
Case Title: R. Sreedhar v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu & Ors.
Case No.: WP No.7572/2020
Quorum: Dr. Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana
Appearance: Petitioner in person; Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan (for State)
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