The Madras High Court has held that rules formed by the state should not curtail the right to basic human dignity of a prisoner of a heinous crime as it would be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

A writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution was filed seeking the issuance of a writ of Mandamus directing the Superintendent of Central Prison, Madurai to grant leave to two convicts i.e., son and grandson of the petitioner so that the two could attend the 16th day death ceremony of their mother and sister respectively.

A Division Bench of Justice Nisha Banu and Justice K.K. Ramakrishnan held that “Considering the relationship and the importance of the ceremony which attaches a lot of sentimental value for a son and brother, we are of the considered opinion that Rules should not come in the way and stop the son and brother from attending the ceremony.”

Advocate A. Joseph Jerry appeared for the Petitioner and Additional Public Prosecutor S. Ravi appeared for the State.

While arguing the present matter Public Prosecutor referred to the Rule 21 of the Tamil Nadu Suspension of Sentence Rules, 1982 and submitted that “prisoners convicted for heinous offences have been held not to be entitled for ordinary leave under Rule 21 of the Rules.”

The Court noted that rules are meant to bring consistency while granting leave to the convict prisoners and to keep the movement of the convicts outside the jail under control however the Court added “when it comes to the relationship between a mother and a son, the Rule has to be mended and it will be tyrannical to deprive a son from attending death ceremony of his own mother. After all, even a prisoner, who has committed a heinous crime is entitled to be treated as a human being and such a right is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Thus, the writ petition was disposed with a direction to grant emergency leave to the son and grandson of the petitioner.

Cause Title: P. Gunasekaran v. The Deputy Inspector General (Prison) & Ors.

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