Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a PIL filed challenging Rule 585 of the Delhi Prison Rules, 2018 and seeking an amendment of Rules to include interviews with legal advisers be open from Monday to Friday for an appropriate allotted time with no cap on interviews per week, a division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, CJ., and Subramonium Prasad, J., held that the Court is not inclined to pass any order issuing a writ of mandamus, however, keeping in view the fact that the present PIL is not adversarial litigation, and the petition was filed in the interest of prisoners, the bench permitted the petitioner to give a representation to the State providing suggestions, which the bench expects that the State will consider in the right spirit.

In the interim, the petitioners have prayed for a visit of the legal counsel to their clients in Delhi prisons more than twice a week. The State filed Model Prison Manual, 2016, and the Prison Rules of other States demonstrating that no other State allows prisoners visitation more than two times a week from relatives, friends, and legal advisors.

The Court noted that judicial review is the cornerstone of constitutionalism and is a part of our basic structure. Despite this understanding, the Supreme Court has time and again reiterated how, by way of judicial review, policy decisions of the State should not be interfered with unless they are grossly arbitrary or irrational as there is a need to maintain separation of powers.

The Court further noted that depending upon the number of undertrials and prisoners, the State has taken a decision of capping total number of visits by family members, relatives, friends and legal advisers to two times a week and it cannot be said that the said decision is completely arbitrary. The said decision has been taken after careful consideration of the facilities available in the prisons, availability of the staff and the number of undertrials.

Thus, the Court dismissed the PIL, but, keeping in view the fact that the present PIL is not an adversarial litigation, and the petition was filed in the interest of the prisoners, the petitioner was permitted to give a representation to the State providing suggestions and expecting the State to consider in the right spirit.

[Jai A Dehadrai v GNCTD, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 960, decided on 16-02-2023]

Judgment By: Justice Subramonium Prasad

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioner No.1- In person;

Mr. Satyakam, ASC for GNCTD with Ms. Pallavi Singh, Advocate.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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