Saturday, March 13, 2010

Don’t handcuff accused: Madras HC

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Dinakaran ePaper


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"Follow directions on handcuffing of prisoners"


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

The Madras High Court has directed prison and police authorities to scrupulously follow Supreme Court directions relating to handcuffing of prisoners.

The court said it was unfortunate to note that even after 14 years of the Supreme Court judgment in the Citizen for Democracy vs. State of Assam, the Superintendent, Central Prison, Coimbatore, had not been apprised of the judgment either by the Home Department or higher police officials.

The Supreme Court, underlining the rights of detenus, under-trial prisoners and convicted prisoners, had held that the police could resort to handcuffing or chaining only under certain circumstances, that too, after getting orders from the judicial magistrate.

In his petition, M. Elango, working as a clerk under Ahamed Ali, who was running an oil store at Bhavani, sought a writ to forbear the police and prison authorities from bringing Ali, detained under the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, in handcuff and chain while being produced before the Advisory Board, Chennai.

In his counter, the Superintendent of Central Prison, Coimbatore, submitted that handcuff was never used when the detenu was inside the prison. The Superintendent relied on the Tamil Nadu Prison rules, which stated that handcuffing of undertrial prisoners may be done at the discretion of the officer-in-charge of the police escort and it was for the police to decide whether such prisoner should be handcuffed or not.

Since the detenu's antecedents and character were not known to the prison administration, handcuffing was done while handing over the detenu to police escort for being produced before the court or the board.

Allowing the petition, Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar said violation of the Supreme Court order would be treated as contempt of court. He was of the view that the Supreme Court's judgment and the High Court order should be communicated to the Home Secretary and the Director-General of Police, who should communicate it to the Superintendent of all Central prisons and other prison authorities and police officials in the State for strict compliance and appropriate action.

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