Prisoners' Right To Meet Family: SC Issues Notice In A Plea Seeking Transfer From Jail In Kerala To Home State Assam
The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice in a plea filed by migrant daily wage labour who was convicted of rape and murder and had sought transfer from jail in Kerala to jail in Assam. The petitioner approached the Supreme Court stating that due to extreme poverty and geographical limitations, the visitation rights of his wife and old-aged parents based in Assam are rendered infructuous.
The Bench comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy heard the writ petition filed by the migrant labour from Assam. The petitioner was awarded the death sentence in the case, which is pending confirmation by the Kerala High Court in appeal.
Advocates K Parameshwar, Sriram Parakkat, and Satheesh Mohanan appeared on behalf of the petitioner.
"The Petitioner even as a prisoner awaiting a sentence of death has visitation rights under the Jail Manual. As a basic human right, it is submitted that the Petitioner has a right to meet his family members", the plea read.
The petitioner through his counsel requested his transfer from Kerala to Assam, to both Kerala and Assam governments. The Governor of Assam had replied saying that the jurisdiction lies with Kerala. The Kerala Governor rejected his request for transfer.
"As per Rule 587 of the Kerala Prisons and Correctional Services (Management) Rules, a prisoner sentenced to death must not be transferred from prison. Also, Rule 789 states that a prisoner cannot be transferred till final judgment is obtained in his appeal petition. Hence, the Jail transfer of C.No. 398 Muhammed Ameer-ul-Islam cannot be considered now.", read the Government Order of the Kerala Government.
It has been argued that the Rules framed under the Kerala Prisons and Correctional Services (Management) Act, 2014 are not only unconstitutional, but also ultra vires the Central Acts governing the field, when the area is already occupied by the Prisoners Act, 1900 and the Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950. Section 3 of the Transfer of Prisoners Act, of 1950 Act specifically provides for the transfer of prisoners from one state to another. Therefore, it has been prayed that the impugned Rules which prevent the transfer of prisoners who are sentenced to death be declared unconstitutional and should be struck down for being ultra vires the Central Act occupying the field.
Placing reliance upon Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration, it has been said that a convict on death row is to be protected from harsh, inhumane, and discriminatory treatment during their time in jail.
"It is therefore imperative that the petitioner be allowed to be transferred from Kerala to Assam to protect his fundamental rights and that of his loved ones who are now facing cruel and unusual torture by being denied access to the petitioner due to the inability of the petitioner's family to travel to Kerala owing to their economically weak stature", the petition prayed.
Cause Title- Muhammed Ameer Ul Islam v. State of Kerala & Ors.