Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Indrajit Mahanty, CJ. and SG Chattopadhyay, J., took up a petition which was registered on the basis of a letter received from the District & Sessions Judge, Khowai District who had carried out inspection of the Khowai Sub-Jail and had made complaint against the Warders and one Havilder who allegedly misbehaved with the Under Trial Prisoners(UTP) during checking while they returned back to Sub-Jail from Court. Allegation being that they adopted coercive practice with the intention to harass the UTPs who were required to remove their garments allegedly in the name of checking for security purpose andwhen UTPs objected to the same, the said warders and Havildar compelled the UTPs to remove even the last piece of cloth from their body in presence of other prisoners including convicts.
Court had directed the State to take into consideration the complaint received and finally directed the State to create a new Jail Manual in order to ensure that such invasive checking of UTPs and convicts should be avoided and UTPs and convicts were required to be treated in an appropriate manner. Government Advocate had submitted that Tripura State Cabinet had approved a new Jail Manual on 16th November 2021 and that the same awaited necessary gazette publication. The new Jail Manual has provided detailed instructions to all persons controlling the jails and more particularly, in so far as checking of UTPs and convicts were concerned, Clause 71 of which reads as follows:
“71. SEARCHING OF INMATES :
Searches of inmates are to be conducted, in so far as possible, adhering the following, while having due regard to the privacy and dignity of the individuals :
(a) Searches are to be conducted in separate enclosures and not within the visibility of other inmates.
(b) Every female inmate shall be searched by female warder only and in presence of other senior personnel and women officers.
(c) X-Ray machine/Door Metal Detector/held Hand Metal Detector shall be available in every Sansodhanagar for searching of inmates on their admission and every in and outside moment of inmates.
(d) If any prohibited article is found in the possession of any inmates during searching, the matter shall be brought to the notice of the concerned magistrate, Police office of that jurisdiction forthwith.”
The Court was of the considered view that purpose of the present writ petition has been subserved and commended the State for having carried out its responsibility and directions of this Court. The Court further clarified that that departmental proceedings pending, if any, may continue and be concluded at an early date and appropriate action in accordance with the rules be taken.[Court on its own motion v. State of Tripura, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 613, decided on 13-12-2021]
Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For Petitioner(s): Mr Somik Deb, Amicus Curiae, Mr Samarjit Bhattacharjee, Advocate.
For Respondent(s): Mr D Bhattachariya, Govt. Advocate, Mr S Saha, Advocate