In R. Sreedhar v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu & Ors., the Madras High Court dismissed a PIL seeking to avail the services of persons lodged in prisons across the country for dealing with the challenging times of the pandemic.
The Petitioner R. Sreedhar, an advocate suggested that convicted jail inmates should provide security and other services relating to control of COVID-19 Pandemic by their services outside the jails. He also submitted that such activity of the jail inmates will enable them to undertake social work and aid in their reformation, which is the very objective of the Prisons Act, 1894.
In the face of corollary security issues however, the division bench of Dr Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana refused to pass such directions.
The High Court observed that allowing prisoners to provide services outside the prison shall allow them to elope from custody and pose a threat to society. It also noted that the Petitioner had failed to establish the “requirement” for such a direction, especially when 40,000 volunteers were already available to assist the Police, which was presented by the state counsel V. Jayaprakash Narayanan.
The Court held,
“The employment of the jail inmates within the jail premises in different spheres for their reform has already been taking place in terms of the Prisons Act and the Rules made thereunder. Therefore, bringing them outside the jails to assist the police personnel and other volunteers for security and other related purposes in COVID-19 situation is not considered very necessary at this stage.”
The petition was accordingly dismissed.
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