A Kerala High Court Bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan has expressed shock in a case where a lawyer was forced to approach the Court to obtain the signature of his client who was convicted in a criminal case. In that regard, the Court warned that "the lawyers are officers of the Court. When a lawyer is going to prison to meet his client, it is the duty of the officers of the jail to give respect to the lawyer and allow him to do his official/professional duty without any delay. If any unnecessary delay is caused to a lawyer in meeting a client in jail or if there is any unnecessary detention of a lawyer at the gate of a jail, who approaches a prison after taking appointment to meet his client in connection with his professional duties, this Court will take it very seriously in the future."

Counsel Thushar Nirmal Sarathy represented himself as a party-in-person, while Additional Public Prosecutor P Narayanan appeared for the respondents.

In this case, a lawyer filed a petition stating that the Superintendent of the Central Prison denied him permission to have his client, who is a convicted prisoner serving a life sentence at the prison, sign the vakalath (authorization to act as a lawyer), writ petition, and affidavit.

In response to the Court's direction, the Superintendent filed an affidavit expressing regret for the inconvenience caused to the petitioner-lawyer.

During the subsequent hearing, the petitioner informed the Court that his grievance had been resolved. Considering this statement, the Court concluded that the petition could be closed.

Before disposing of the case, the Court analysed a catena of judgments and the applicable provisions of the law, to observe that "I am of the considered opinion that, all Prison Authorities should give necessary assistance to the prisoners to meet their lawyers. If a lawyer approaches a prison to meet his client and the client also wants to meet his lawyer in connection with the professional duty of a lawyer, the Prison Authority should give due respect to the lawyer and should take necessary steps to facilitate the meeting of the prisoner with his lawyer, without any unnecessary delay."

The Court also directed that the Director General of Prisons and Correctional services must issue a circular in this regard and forward it to all the Jails in the State to ensure that the lawyers coming to the prison in connection with their professional duties are given the required respect and are not detained unnecessarily by the jail authorities.

Cause Title: Adv. Thushar Nirmal Sarathy v. State of Kerala & Ors.

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